The 34-year-old England international is nearing the final stages of rehabilitation from an anterior cruciate ligament injury sustained in a 2-1 win at Burnley on New Year’s Day.
After using gym equipment at his Cheshire home for strengthening work during lockdown, Heaton is now back running as he continues to make progress.
Though the recovery has been lengthy and frequently lonely, the former Burnley shot-stopper claims the experience of previously battling back from a serious shoulder injury while with the Clarets has helped him maintain mental focus.
“The shoulder injury was a nasty one, probably nastier than the ACL,” he explained. “I had a dislocation fracture and a lot of nerve damage in the shoulder and it kept me out for a long time.
“But having been through it and come out the other side, the rehab phase when your mind is ready to play but your body is not quite there, because all those experiences I feel pretty relaxed.
“That is why I feel so good in the rehab now. I know what is important and you can’t miss a day.
“You probably want to be doing more than what you are given so with that in mind I have really been putting my foot on the accelerator and it has paid off.
“I have no doubts about coming back because I have done it before. You know if you put things in and do it right it is going to pay off in the end.”