England call would mean everything to Clarets keeper Pope

Whether or not it happens this time around, Clarets goalkeeper Nick Pope says that it would mean everything to one day get an England call.

Sunday, 11th March 2018, 10:44 pm
Updated Sunday, 11th March 2018, 10:55 pm
Burnley's Nick Pope

Statistically, the 25-year-old former Charlton Athletic stopper would be one of the leading candidates to have his wish of becoming one of Gareth Southgate's three picks granted.

Pope is currently one of the best performing keepers in the country, continually trumping his rivals, with a 79% save rate from 26 appearances, conceding 0.9 goals per game.

The Three Lions hopeful entered double figures for clean sheets when keeping West Ham United out at the London Stadium and he has registered the most high claims in the Premier League with 43.

In comparison, Southampton's Frazer Forster is Pope's closest competitor numerically with a 69% save rate while conceding an average of 1.5 goals per game in 20 appearances.

Stoke City's Jack Butland boasts a 68% save rate, shipping an average of 1.8 goals per outing from 26 appearances, Everton stopper Jordan Pickford has a 66% save rate while conceding 1.7 goals per game from 29 appearances while Joe Hart, whose error led to Burnley's third against the Hammers, has racked up a 55% save rate, letting in an average of 2.1 goals per game from 14 appearances.

Pope isn't expected to make the grade on this occasion, instead it is understood that Norwich City loanee Angus Gunn will join Pickford and Butland in the next 23-man squad.

The 22-year-old, contracted to runaway top flight leaders Manchester City, has featured internationally at five different age groups despite his limited experience domestically.

This term, since making his first appearance as a professional, Gunn has played 36 games in the Championship, conceding an average of 0.9 goals per game, equalling Pope, and has kept 14 clean sheets, though he let four past him in defeat to Hull City at the weekend.

With Southgate set to name his group for friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy on Thursday, Pope said: "I'll just have to wait and find out. I don't know anything. I'll wait and see and go from there.

"It would mean everything; the pinnacle of football is to get called up to your country. The fact that people are even talking about it is great for me.

"The fact that my name is even being mentioned around it is a great start. It's something that I couldn't have even imagined for my career. It's nice.

"It would be a massive plus for me, a massive bonus, I can't hide that. It's something that I'd love to be involved in.

"We'll see, my focus is on Burnley, we've got eight games left and I'm giving everything towards that. Everything else will take care of itself."

Tom Heaton has earned three caps for England, featuring against Australia, Spain and France, and Pope has credited the skipper for his development during his time at the club.

With Heaton returning to fitness, and the competition for the number one jersey about to be cranked up, Pope said: "Every club that I've been at has been the same, whether I've been on loan. There's always been someone pushing you.

"It's important to push each other, not just on a Saturday, but day in day out. We'll keep pushing each other to be better and it's the best thing for a club. It's the best thing for us as well.

"I think I'm getting stronger and I'm enjoying it. I'm giving my all every week, giving 100% in training with the lads."