Pope hoping for a front row seat
Burnley's Player of the Season Nick Pope flitted between his home and his local pub to watch England in the last World Cup in Brazil.
But the 26-year-old goalkeeper has a realistic chance of getting much closer to the action when Russia hosts the 21st edition of the major tournament this summer.
The former Charlton Athletic keeper had just ended a loan spell at York City when the hosts got the 2014 competition underway against Croatia in São Paulo.
Stationed in the Maid’s Head in Wicken in Cambridgeshire, Pope watched the Three Lions crash out of the group stages having taken a solitary point from games against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
This time he’s hoping for a front row seat as Gareth Southgate announces his final 23-man squad tomorrow.
Pope, who earned his first international call up in March for friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy, said: “It’s something I think about since I made the last squad. If I hadn’t have made the squad in March I would be sitting here thinking I’ve got a very small chance so to make that squad gave me a little bit of hope.
“At the start of the season you’re looking at being a number two goalkeeper and possibly getting a handful of games over a season.
“It’s something I couldn’t even dream about then. Four years ago I would have just watched it at home or down the Maid’s Head.
“But I’ve maybe got half a chance of getting on the plane, which would be a massive achievement in itself, let alone playing. Fingers crossed.
“If not I get to enjoy my holidays feeling fresh and ready to go again.”
Pope revealed that his time in the England camp was highly beneficial: “It was a really open environment to be in, you could talk to anyone, including the manager.
“I was lucky enough to speak to him for a good time, explain to him how much I enjoyed the camp, how I liked the environment and say thanks for calling me up.
“He’s an easy person to get on with. He just said ‘keep going, keep working on your game and we’ll see where we are at the end of the season’.”