ENGLAND boss Gareth Southgate believes Tom Heaton's form merited a return to the Three Lions squad after the Burnley captain was called up for European Championship qualifiers.

The Clarets skipper is joined in the England party by teammate James Tarkowski ahead of games against the Czech Republic and Montenegro later this month.

The pair will link up with the national team at St Georges' Park on Monday following Burnley's weekend clash with Leicester City in the Premier League.

For Heaton it is a first call since he suffered a shoulder injury in September 2017 which meant he missed out on a place in Southgate's World Cup squad last summer.

Nick Pope replaced the 32-year-old for club and country but the former Charlton man, who did go to Russia last year, is not included having not featured for the Clarets in the Premier League this season following a shoulder injury of his own.

Heaton found himself behind summer signing Joe Hart in the pecking order on his return to full fitness but regained his place in Sean Dyche's side for the win over West Ham in late December and has started every Premier League game since.

He has produced some fine performances, particularly in the win at Brighton last month, and although he did not enjoy his best game in the defeat to Liverpool last time out Southgate has been suitably impressed.

"He has played well," said the England boss of the Burnley No.1. "He has had a really consistent run of games, not such a good afternoon for him at the weekend.

"We know Tom and he has been a really impressive character to have around our squad in the past and at the moment is heading the battle that Burnley have with three good English goalkeepers so this is a good opportunity for him to come back with us.

"He has had a frustrating period where he missed out on a World Cup and the chance to come to a World Cup with us through injury as much as anything so it will be give to have Tom back with us."

The Clarets skipper joins Stoke City's Jack Butland and Everton's Jordan Pickford as England goalkeepers.

Pickford has come under pressure in recent weeks following some shaky performances for his club, including in the Toffees defeat to Newcastle last time out.

But Southgate believes the 25-year-old deserves his place in the squad, although stopped short of confirming he was his No.1.

"Jordan has played extremely well for us," added the England boss.

"I think you could look at any of the players across the squad and say they have had moments where they have played well and moments where they have had difficult afternoons. No question that was the case for Jordan at the weekend.

"But if I look at what he has done for us - and when you are picking a squad there has got to be an element of what players are doing with their club and what they are doing and have done with us. His performances with us have been excellent.

"I am never keen to say this player is number one and that's it this player in that position is our number one choice because you always have to have competition for places.

"We are pleased with what Jordan has done, we have got to help him through what was hopefully a blip at the weekend and like everybody else he has got to train well and perform well."