‘It has been frustrating’ - Man Utd goalkeeper makes frank admission after Carabao Cup win over Charlton

Tom Heaton has said he hopes to play more in the future at Manchester United after he featured during Tuesday’s win over Charlton.

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Tom Heaton has admitted it’s been frustrating to spend so much time on the sidelines this season at Manchester United, but added he has always been aware that his role in the squad is to play back up to David de Gea.

The former Burnley and Aston Villa goalkeeper joined the Red Devils in the summer of 2021 but made just his second appearance on Tuesday as he played 90 minutes in United’s 3-0 Carabao Cup win over Charlton Athletic. Heaton put in a solid performance and made two relatively comfortable saves during the game as the Red Devils progressed to the last four of the competition. Speaking after the match, the 36-year-old said he enjoyed the experience of being back in first-team action.

“I felt solid. It has been a while since I played and it takes a few minutes to get back into your stride, but I’ve felt ready all along,” he said. “I felt good in the pre-season friendlies and mid-season friendlies that we played. We’ve had a few games at the training ground where the manager has put me in and I felt good in those. I know you haven’t seen too much of me but I have felt at it and I enjoyed it tonight.

“The main aim of the evening was to get through to the next round. I thought Charlton did a good job and made things difficult, but we went about our business really well and I’m delighted to be in the semi-final.

“I have to say that it has been frustrating not playing,” he added, on the season so far. “I was ready all the time, I knew that opportunities would be limited, so when you get an opportunity like tonight you try and take it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Much of Heaton’s frustrations come from an injury he suffered earlier this campaign, which limited his game time. As a result, David de Gea played in all six Europa League group matches, with Martin Dubravka was selected for the previous Carabao Cup ties against Villa and Burnley.

Despite that, Heaton said Erik ten Hag has been clear with his instructions so far, and he’s under no illusions as to his role in the squad. “We’ve had plenty of conversations. He talks to everyone. I saw opportunities and was slightly frustrated not to play in the earlier rounds,” claimed United’s No.22.

Heaton is hoping for more on-field minutes before the end of the season. Credit: Getty.Heaton is hoping for more on-field minutes before the end of the season. Credit: Getty.
Heaton is hoping for more on-field minutes before the end of the season. Credit: Getty.

“I had a bad time with injury in fairness so I was actually out for the first game and was coming back for the second when Martin came in and did well. It’s unfortunate when things don’t fall your way but I’m chomping at the bit to play games and get opportunities. They’ve been limited so far in my 18 months back at the club, but I’ve never taken my eyes off the ball and when I had the opportunity tonight I really enjoyed it.

“But for me the priority is always the playing, it doesn’t go away,” Heaton added. “It can be hard at times. At the end of the day I’m always a big believer in the team and supporting David, who has been playing most of the time, and giving him everything in support.

“But it still comes back to the personal side of wanting to play and that drive to do that, the other stuff is there but it’s probably secondary.

“I’m also a realist, I knew the situation coming in, I’m not saying I’ll be banging on his door every week to get in the team, but you still want the opportunities to play so it’s a good night for that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. To have that feeling back out playing brings a new energy in your body.”

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