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Dyche looking forward to Heaton reunion but says friendship stays off the field

Sean Dyche will put emotion aside when Burnley are reunited with long-serving keeper Tom Heaton on Saturday.

The 33-year-old ended a six-year spell at Turf Moor, in which he captained the club, by moving to Aston Villa this summer.

The Clarets make the trip to Villa Park this weekend, and Dyche said: “I’m pretty good with these things emotionally.

“There’ll be no emotion during the game but before, maximum respect for Tom both on and off the pitch, great fella, my first ever signing here for the grand total of zero and then he’s been a brilliant servant.

“After the game full respect again but during it, it won’t really cross my mind, it never does when we’re playing against old players. There’s been loads of different players who’ve moved on and we’ve played against them down the years.”

Heaton was Burnley’s first-choice keeper for most of last season but, with fellow England international Nick Pope waiting in the wings and Joe Hart also at the club, the Clarets accepted an £8million bid from newly-promoted Villa.

Both Heaton and Pope were in the most recent England squad, and Dyche said: “He’s a very, very good keeper, we know that.

“It was one of them, sometimes the business side of it works for everyone, and that’s all it was. I don’t think there was a dramatic thirst for him to leave or for us to lose Tom, it was just the fact that all the business things that needed to be right were right.

“So there’s certainly no bad feelings about the situation and I look forward to speaking to him.”

Dyche has mostly kept his distance since Heaton’s departure and will not be giving his former captain a call ahead of the match.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said. “I’ve never done that with other players. After the game I’ll speak to him.

“I left him alone for a while because he’s got to settle in there, he doesn’t need me speaking to him all the time, but I spoke to him at some length a number of days later when it had all calmed down.”

Defender James Tarkowski described Heaton as the leader among the Burnley players and admitted his character is missed in the dressing room.

“It’s probably going to be a bit strange,” he said of the reunion. “Heats was obviously a massive part of our group for so long and our leader to be honest.

“He was the man that everyone went to if they had a problem or needed to talk about anything so to see him go was a bit of a sad day really but it’s nice to see him out there playing week in, week out and enjoying himself and I’m looking forward to seeing him.

“I’m sure he’s looking forward to it, I know he loved his time here but for himself he needed to move on.”

Dyche will not discuss the subject with his players, saying: “They can work it all out for themselves.

“I’m sure there’ll be a bit of banter on the WhatsApp group – or the ex WhatsApp group, I’m sure they’ve tried to re-include him in that and fire a bit off on him.

“Everyone who worked with Tom will have nothing but respect, and it’s only the 90 odd minutes where that goes out the window, and it has to, because we want to win the game.”

Johann Berg Gudmundsson could be recalled after a calf problem while Dwight McNeil is expected to recover from a dead leg.

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