Burnley boss Sean Dyche feels there is more to come from Nick Pope after England recall
Sean Dyche feels there is a lot more to come from keeper Nick Pope, after he returned to the England squad.
Pope was named in Gareth Southgate’s panel for the first time since the World Cup in Russia last summer, having picked up a shoulder injury on his return at Aberdeen in the Europa League.
The 27-year-old then had to be patient, with Joe Hart and then Tom Heaton in possession of the jersey, with the former Charlton man only making two appearances all season, both in the FA Cup.
But, having signed a new long-term contract this summer, Pope has emerged as number one, with Heaton sold to Aston Villa.
And after just three Premier League starts, Southgate hasn’t hesitated to name him as one of three keepers in the Three Lions squad, along with Heaton and Jordan Pickford.
Dyche said: “I think he’s been well thought of in the World Cup, just around the group, and I think that’s important - as was Tom, of course.
“And I think he’s come back well.
“It was really hard on him last season, but I believe in a bit of respect and respected the group, Tom came in and Joe has done ever so well in the early part of the season and was a bit unfortunate for me to change it, but I felt I had to make a change.
“Tom did very well and Popey had to wait that time out, and that’s not an easy thing.
“But he’s signed again, he wanted to get his head focused on what he’s doing here, which I was pleased with, and he’s shown in pre-season why he does what he does, because he’s a very good keeper.
“He made two big saves down at Arsenal, and the units worked well in front of him in the other games, he’s made big saves when he’s had to, and he can only get better and sharper.”
Pope arrived at Turf Moor as a relatively unheralded capture in the summer of 2016, after Charlton were relegated from the Championship.
Burnley paid only £1.5m for his services, and, after serving time watching and learning from Heaton and Paul Robinson, he stepped up to number two, before seamlessly slotting in for Heaton, after he dislocated his shoulder two years ago.
Dyche thinks you would struggle to snap up a player of his quality for that sort of fee nowadays: “It wasn’t a fortune, it’s fair to say, we have a certain market place we work in, which is getting tougher, I don’t think those players are around at that level any more, £1.5m, I don’t think you’ll find many for that now, the way the game has changed, the way it’s drip fed down from the super-massive deals.
“It’s gone all the way down, you could ring for a Conference keeper and they’d say they want £3m now.
“That’s how the market has changed, it’s not right or wrong, it’s just how it is.
“So I would definitely consider him to be a very high quality goalkeeper for the price we paid.”
Dyche believes his experience at Charlton showed a strong mentality, and he added: “I took Tom when he’d been relegated at Bristol City, got hammered, that joyous backhanded negative story, I think Tom did alright...
“And Popey similarly had been relegated at Charlton. I don’t choose relegated players, but if you’re a keeper and that kind of thing happens, and you’re still showing the mentality to play through all those challenges and keel your focus and keep your head, and not get wrapped up in it all, I think there’s a bit of character in there.
“Popey has done that, Tom definitely had, and I think if you have that kind of mettle, to come through that and not be really damaged by it, it’s a powerful thing.
“I think both have done that, and how Popey hit the ground running is not a surprise to me, but the bigger picture, we thought he was a very good keeper when we got him, and still do, but he’s still maturing and learning - I think keepers and centre halves develop slightly later - so I still think there’s a long way for him to go, there’s a lot of improvement he can continue to make.
“And we like what we’ve seen of Bailey (Peacock-Farrell) as well, similar but different, in the sense, getting him involved now, getting a feel, all part of the journey to be the next one challenging.”
While Pope is the only Burnley player in the squad - with James Tarkowski surprisingly overlooked, and the likes of Ashley Barnes, Ashley Westwood and Ben Mee ignored, there are three players who played under Dyche at Turf Moor, in Heaton, Michael Keane and Kieran Trippier.
Dyche takes great pride in their continued success: “You could consider Ben Mee in that, Tarky, Westy on current form...it’s nice to see players knocking on the door, and these are all the by-stories of the success we’ve had as a club, some of the details behind being in the Premier League, the Europa, there are these individual stories.
“I’ve been really pleased with that, and for them.
“One of the things that keeps me going, is the development of the players.
“I had my day and always thought I’d go into coaching and management to try and help them have a better time than I did.
“And we’ve had a lot of those stories, and I’ve been really pleased with that, whether they’re still with us or go on to different challenges, it’s great to see them doing well.
“I spoke to Tripps recently, he’s really enjoying it, a big challenge on and off the pitch (at Atletico Madrid).
“He’s certainly good enough technically and fit enough, and I like what they do there, you rarely hear (Diego) Simeone pontificating about the greater good of the game, he just wants to win things, I’m quite in tune with that!
“It was good speaking to him.”