Pope hoping for club chance to help stay in England picture

Nick Pope
Nick Pope
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Nick Pope is hoping to get enough games over the rest of the season to remain in England boss Gareth Southgate’s thoughts ahead of the Nations League finals this summer.

Pope revealed Southgate got in contact with him after he suffered a dislocated shoulder at Aberdeen in July, shortly after returning from the World Cup with the Three Lions.

But he knows he needs regular football to stay in the frame, and now faces a huge battle to get back in the Burnley side, with club captain Tom Heaton and Joe Hart standing in his way.

Pope, capped against Costa Rica ahead of Russia, made his return from injury in the 1-0 FA Cup win over Barnsley at Turf Moor on Saturday, and, asked whether Southgate had contacted him over his time out, he said: “After I got injured and it had all calmed down after a couple of weeks, he rang me and had a great conversation, so that was a nice lift at a difficult time.

“It was great to hear from him, and throughout the World Cup his man-management was top drawer.

“It was really nice to get that call.

“Fingers crossed [I'm still in his thoughts], you have to play games to stay in his thoughts and that's what I have to look to do from now until the end of the season.”

Heaton and Hart are obviously also England internationals, so he knows he has a tough task to get that Burnley jersey first, before hopefully returning to the national squad: “Yes, it is [an amazing situation]. Not many people expect that at Burnley or anywhere in the Premier League really.

“That's the situation we've got, and it's up to us to decide who can play and who gets the shirt.

“We've all got to be pushing each other every day.

“There's great banter between the three of us and we have five senior goalkeepers now with Adam Legzdins and Anders Lindegaard.

“We have high quality all the place - the lads in training don't stand a chance!”

Pope wasn’t tested on his return to action, but was just delighted to be back: “It was great to be back out there with the lads and pick up a good result.

““I've been back in training a few weeks now so I felt ready to play.

“The lads came away with a clean sheet and a win.”