Burnley faced a goalkeeping crisis over the summer with Nick Pope and Tom Heaton ruled out of action through injury, as a result Sean Dyche was forced to bring in former England number one Joe Hart from Manchester City for £3.5m.
However, Heaton has since made his return to competitive football and Pope is expected to return to training in December, which means that Dyche could soon have a difficult decision to make regarding his first-choice shot-stopper.
All three men have experienced Premier League football and represented England on the international stage, but who should take Burnley’s number 1 spot?
After enduring difficult loan spells with Torino and West Ham in recent seasons, the 31-year-old has made a positive start to life at Turf Moor, keeping clean sheets in both legs of the Clarets’ Europa League tie with Istanbul Basaksehir.
He also shined in their recent Premier League game against Manchester United at Turf Moor, making several crucial saves including a fine stop to deny Paul Pogba’s spot-kick.
Despite this, his ability to control his penalty area has been questioned and having already conceded three league goals from crosses this season it is an area in which Hart certainly struggles with. One of Pope’s main strengths last season was his dominance in the air and Hart must improve that aspect of his game to keep his place in the side.
The 26-year-old enjoyed a superb 2017/18 campaign as he kept 11 clean sheets in the league which helped the Clarets qualify for the Europa League alongside travelling to Russia as a member of Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.
Having said this, his 2018/19 campaign got off to the worse possible start as the former Charlton man suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first leg of Burnley’s European tie with Aberdeen at Pittodrie. In his absence, Hart has been a regular starter and Heaton has also featured in Europe.
Pope is the youngest of Dyche’s goalkeepers and was one of the breakout stars in the top-flight last season. However, he may struggle to regain his place in the side if Hart and Heaton make the most of their opportunities.
Heaton played a vital role in Burnley’s Premier League survival two years ago but missed most of last season after also picking up a shoulder injury – a nasty collision in the Clarets’ league win against Crystal Palace at Turf Moor early last season was the reason behind his absence.
He also sat out of their pre-season campaign and early Europa League qualifying games this season due to a calf problem, which caused Dyche to bring in Hart on the verge of the summer deadline.
Although the shot-stopper was away for some time, he put on a strong performance in his return to competitive football, making several key saves away at Olympiakos to keep his side in with a chance ahead of the return leg at Turf Moor.
He has become a hugely popular figure since arriving at Turf Moor in 2013 following a difficult spell with Bristol City but, with Hart regaining form and Pope set to return soon, opportunities could be hard to come for the club captain.