Long backs Pope and Tarky to make the plane for Russia

Burnley's Kevin Long scores his side's second goal against Leicester City at Turf Moor
Burnley's Kevin Long scores his side's second goal against Leicester City at Turf Moor
Share this article

Clarets duo Nick Pope and James Tarkowski would be on the plane to Russia for this summer’s World Cup if defender Kevin Long had anything to do with it.

The pair received their first international call ups by England boss Gareth Southgate for friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy last month, with Tarkowski earning his first cap against the latter at Wembley.

“He’s been fantastic,” said Long, of Pope. “Some of the saves he makes keep us in the game. It’s reassuring to have someone that calm behind you making saves. It’s brilliant.

“All he can do is keep putting in the performances. He’s been immense. I’m sure he (Southgate) was taking notice of that.”

Speaking of his central defensive partner, the Republic of Ireland international added: “Tarky’s been brilliant, along with Ben [Mee].

“We’ve got a great team here at the moment. We’re flying high in the league, and we’ll just keep working hard.

“It’s not up to me to pick the team, but if it was, the two of them would be in the team, no doubt.

“All they can do is keep putting in the performances like that, and I’m sure the manager will be watching and taking notice.”

England will finalise their preparations for the World Cup against Costa Rica on June 7th at Elland Road before tackling Tunisia in their Group G opener at the Volgograd Arena.

They then play Panama at Stadion Nizhny on June 24th and round off the group stages against Belgium in Kaliningrad four days later.