Pope not concentrating on England speculation

Nick Pope caught pundit Robbie Savage’s eye with his performance at Old Trafford, with the former Wales midfielder claiming he should be a candidate for the England World Cup squad.

But while Savage, who started his career with Manchester United, was hugely impressed with Pope, and in particular his stunning save from Jesse Lingard from a yard out, Pope admits international honours haven’t crossed his mind yet.

Pope has kept nine clean sheets in 17 Premier League appearances since England international Tom Heaton dislocated his shoulder back in September.

The former Charlton Athletic keeper has adapted superbly to life at the top level, but while he appreciates the praise from Savage, he said: “That’s nice of Robbie to say that. I have not heard that one, but it’s nice for him to say.

“I am not going to stop him saying that!

“But that’s outside noise which is pleasant to hear.

“But the plane, it’s a long way off. To be thinking about that would be getting ahead of myself.”

He added: “I think that is something that is out of my hands at the moment and I don’t have to worry about.

“The only thing I have to worry about is Burnley and playing week in week out.

“Game by game is how we are taking it.

“To have those things spoken about me, in that bracket of player, is really nice. It’s a confidence boost but it’s not something I’ll give too much thought because Burnley is the only thing on my mind.”

While Heaton, who was in the squad for Euro 2016 and has been a regular in the group since 2015, will hope to work his way back into Gareth Southgate’s plans for Russia, the club captain will have to force his way back into Sean Dyche’s side first, once fit again in the New Year.

Possession is nine tenths of the law, as the saying goes, and Pope smiled: “I am playing at the minute. Football as everyone knows changes quickly. I’m not going to get complacent. I am going to concentrate just as hard as I did in those first few games in the team. 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.”

So will Dyche have a nice headache?: “You will have to ask him that. When that 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.”

Pope has certainly displayed the confidence and mentality to succeed in the Premier League, showing no nerves whatsoever.

He made his first start at Anfield, and Old Trafford on Boxing Day didn’t overawe him either.

Did he have to pinch himself at the Theatre of Dreams?: “A little bit. I was thinking more walking out on the ground ‘if you can’t enjoy playing football here, where can you?’.

“When I got in the team, and made my full debut it was at Anfield. You have just got to enjoy that.

“When you are kid growing up that’s where you want to play. If can’t enjoy it there, where can you?

“It’s something I obviously speak about with my family and friends. They are more nervous than me. When I hear what they are like in the stands it sound like it’s harder for them to enjoy than me. It’s been a good run so far.”

Some players enjoy being nervous, but Pope added: “I don’t know if it is an attribute, it’s just been something I have been determined to do in this run.

“When this opportunity came about it was to enjoy it. Not to worry about everything around it. The other noise.

“Just concentrate game by game, give it what you have got and definitely enjoy yourself.”