Tom Heaton rejects new Burnley deal
(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Tom Heaton's future at Burnley has been placed in doubt after the goalkeeper turned down a contract offer from the club, according to The Guardian

Heaton only has 12 months remaining on his current deal, and so Burnley may be tempted to cash in on the highly-rated stopper rather than let him run down his contract and depart on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Sean Dyche could be forced to turn once again to deputy Nick Pope, who earned plaudits over the course of the 2017/18 season as he impressively deputised for an injured Heaton, playing a crucial role in his side's magnificent seventh-place finish.

Pope was restricted to just three appearances last term, largely due to a shoulder injury, but put pen to paper on a long-term deal in May.

The importance of Heaton

Heaton's most recent appearance - the final-day defeat to Arsenal - was his 200th for the Lancashire outfit. 

His performances between the sticks have been sufficiently solid and consistent to earn him the number two role in the England camp behind Everton's Jordan Pickford.

Indeed, his return to action midway through last season, with Joe Hart usurped following a 5-1 thumping at the hands of Everton on Boxing Day, was integral to the turnaround in Burnley's fortunes.

That emphatic home reverse had left them 18th in the table, with only 12 points on the board from their first 19 games, but with Heaton back in action they embarked on an unbeaten run of eight games to truly kick-start their successful survival bid.

Heaton, who had expressed frustration with his earlier lack of playing time, likely cemented the number one spot with his displays, but may now be seeking pastures new. 

Who are the suitors?

The report names Bournemouth and newly-promoted Aston Villa as two sides possibly interested in a move for the 33-year-old.

Bournemouth may well be in the hunt for a new 'keeper this summer after the unconvincing form of both Asmir Begovic and Artur Boruc persuaded Eddie Howe to back the untested Mark Travers at the end of the season.

At Villa, incumbent number one Jed Steer made himself a hero by saving two penalties in their play-off semi-final victory over West Brom.

However, the club may be eager to seek to proven Premier League talent as they look to ensure a long-term stay in the top division.

It remains to be seen whether Burnley will offer Heaton improved terms in a bid to keep him at the club, or allow him to leave and back Pope to repeat his 17/18 heroics.