According to The Sun (09/12/2018, page 57), Preston North End want Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton on loan.

Heaton became one of the top Premier League goalkeepers in the 2016-17 season, earning England recognition off the back of his displays for the Clarets.

However, it’s all gone a bit downhill from there; he missed a huge chunk of playing time with a major shoulder injury in September 2017, then lost his place for club and country to Nick Pope.

Even when Pope got injured himself, Burnley signed Joe Hart, leaving Heaton as a substitute so far this season.

The 32-year-old will no doubt want to play first-team football somewhere, and The Express claimed he is ‘likely’ to sign for Aston Villa.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20:  Tom Heaton of Burnley FC looks on from the bench during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley FC at Etihad Stadium on October 20, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Now, there could be a shock twist in the tale. 

The Sun report that Preston have made a loan request to Burnley for Heaton, in the hope of swooping in and signing Heaton ahead of Villa.

It’s stated that Preston are ready to offload goalkeeper Chris Maxwell in January, but need somebody to come in and compete with Declan Rudd.

Whilst Middlesbrough-owned Accrington loanee Connor Ripley is one target, Heaton is thought to be another.

Preston do have geography on their side, and a short-term deal to stay in Lancashire until the end of the season may be appealing.

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