Burnley keeper Pope’s England hopes improve as Ramsdale pulls out

As the well-worn legal phrase goes, possession is nine-tenths of the law.
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And England boss Gareth Southgate accepts that those in his current squad, for the Wembley friendlies with Switzerland and Ivory Coast, are very much in the running for the Qatar World Cup which begins in November.

There are only two more international camps before the World Cup, with the Three Lions set to face Hungary home and away, Germany and Italy in the Nations League in June, before the return games with Germany and Italy in September.

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Burnley’s Nick Pope is back in the squad, where, at present, he is one of only two fit goalkeepers available, after Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale pulled out after suffering a muscle injury for the Gunners.

A replacement for Ramsdale has yet to be announced.

Jordan Pickford also missed Everton’s win over Newcastle on Thursday night with Covid-19.

Southgate said on Thursday he will use more than one goalkeeper over the two games, increasing Pope’s chances of adding to his seven caps.

And if he impresses, his chances of going to a second-successive World Cup improve, as Southgate said: "Anybody that is in and around the squad now, of course is in contention for that (Qatar), but that doesn't mean that players that aren't in this squad can't also be in contention.

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"We'll always have an open eye to players that are playing well, and players that could force their way into a squad - that has happened always going into major tournaments before we were in charge and now.

"What you don't have, the closer it gets, is the chance to play and get experience in really big matches, but realistically you're not going to want to put seven or eight new players into a squad, and expect them to win a World Cup.

"You are looking at your more experienced players as being the core of that, and maybe some younger ones who already have experience with us can form part of that team, and maybe one or two who haven't had a cap can still break their way in, but there is a reality what is required to win, and the sort of big matches you need to have been involved in in order to excel in those environments.”