Burnley v Huddersfield Town: Pope’s attention not on England but on Clarets spot

Nick Pope
Nick Pope
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NICK POPE is beginning to be talked up as an England goalkeeper in the making, but the 25-year-old is not even certain how long he will hold on to his shirt at Burnley.

Pope was third choice at Turf Moor last season and expected to spend the current campaign watching from the bench after Paul Robinson’s retirement bumped him up the pecking order.

But he was thrust into centre stage when Tom Heaton injured his shoulder in September and has gone from strength to strength since inheriting the gloves.

In 17 Premier League outings he has managed eight clean sheets, producing 60 saves to underpin the Clarets’ unexpected rise to seventh place.

This has led to speculation about an England call-up next year, with BBC pundit Robbie Savage among those supporting the notion, but Pope is taking a more cautious view.

Given Heaton’s status as Burnley captain and a regular Three Lions squad member over the past two seasons, his return to fitness in the new year could prove an even bigger challenge than catching England manager Gareth Southgate’s eye.

I’m not going to get complacent. You can get clipped back quickly in this game if you get slack or take your eye of the ball. I am definitely aware of that.

Nick Pope

“When the time comes, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. It’s not at the moment so we’ll have to wait and see what happens,” said Pope ahead of today’s year-ending trip to Huddersfield Town.

“I am the one playing at the minute, but football, as everyone knows, changes quickly.

“I’m not going to get complacent. You can get clipped back quickly in this game if you get slack or take your eye of the ball. I am definitely aware of that.

“It was nice of Robbie to say those things about me (playing for England). I am not going to stop him saying that, but that’s outside noise. To be thinking about it would be getting ahead of myself.”