Bristol City must sign Tom Heaton on loan in January
As per a report from The Sun (h/t Bristol Post), EFL Championship outfit Bristol City are plotting a move to sign Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton on loan for the rest of the season once the transfer window reopens in January.
The 32-year-old is currently behind Joe Hart and Nick Pope in the pecking order at Turf Moor and recently hinted that he is willing to consider an exit in the winter transfer window.
“It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to see that it’s going to be difficult to fit us all in,” he told Mirror.
“Come the January transfer window, I’ve got to keep my options open. The one thing I’ve been consistent about in my career is moving clubs in order to play games.
And Bristol City boss Lee Johnson is hoping to capitalize on the England international’s situation by making a move for him. (h/t Bristol Post)
The Robins have made a decent start to the ongoing campaign and a good run of games could see Johnson’s team get into the reckoning for a playoff finish.
However, they have had concerns with the goalkeeping spot this season. First-choice Frank Fielding hasn’t featured this term at all for the Robins, owing to injuries and illnesses. Niki Maenpaa, who came in on a free transfer from Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer, was doing a solid job in the former’s absence.
But a recent injury to the 33-year-old has left Bristol City to rely on the 22-year-old third-choice keeper Max O’Leary. The Bristol City academy graduate has done an admirable job so far but given the long and arduous nature of the Championship – and considering the lack of top-level experience – the club must bring in a new goalkeeper in the January window.
And Heaton fits the bill perfectly. The 32-year-old did play at Ashton Gate back in 2012/13 when the club ended up getting relegated from the Championship. Subsequently, he was scooped up by Sean Dyche, making the former Manchester United academy man his first signing for Burnley.
Since moving to Turf Moor, Heaton has helped the Clarets achieve promotion to the Premier League on two separate occasions and has been a reliable figure between the sticks.
The three-time capped England international has made 181 appearances for Burnley during his five years at the club. However, he has only appeared thrice in the ongoing season.
A dislocated shoulder kept him out of action for a major part of last season while a minor calf injury hindered his comeback towards the beginning of the 2018/19 campaign. However, now that he has fully recovered, he could prove to be a real asset to Bristol City.
The 32-year-old has over 180 appearances in the Championship and understands what it takes to succeed at this level. Having been an integral part of two promotion-winning teams, he would also bring in the know-how and experience. Meanwhile, his natural leadership skills and the ability to keep his defence tight and organized can be valuable tools for the Robins.
The player needs game time and Bristol City need an experienced head between the sticks. Signing him on loan in January would end up being a win-win situation for all parties involved.