Burnley's Nick Pope — a record-breaker on the international stage — addresses England situation with Qatar World Cup on the horizon

Getting back into the England fold in a World Cup year would mean a great deal to Burnley's Nick Pope.

By Dan Black
Friday, 18th February 2022, 10:25 pm

Despite creating history for the Three Lions last year, the 29-year-old has somehow slipped down the pecking order under Gareth Southgate.

The Clarets' two-time Player of the Year became the first goalkeeper for his country to keep clean sheets in his first six internationals during a World Cup qualifier against Albania at Arena Kombëtare in Tirana.

The ex-Charlton Athletic stopper set his string of clean sheets in motion when replacing Jack Butland in the 65th minute of a friendly against Costa Rica in the summer of 2018.

Sign up to our daily Burnley Express Today newsletter

England's goalkeeper Nick Pope (R) gestures to catch the ball past Albania's forward Myrto Uzuni during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification Group I football match between Albania and England at the Air Albania Stadium, in Tirana on March 28, 2021

He followed that up in games against Kosovo, Wales, the Republic of Ireland and San Marino, but hasn't been invited back to St George's Park since a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Poland 11 months ago.

"It would be good, as getting into any England squad is for any individual," said Pope.

“You’ve performed at a good level and you’re getting into the elite of the elite in this country, so it’s always an honour and a privilege to get called up to the England squad, any player will tell you that."

Pope, who took his place on the plane to Russia when England matched their best finish (1990) in the FIFA tournament since winning it in 1966, was finally breached by a 58th minute Jakub Moder effort at Wembley Stadium.

Nick Pope of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and Liverpool at Turf Moor on February 13, 2022 in Burnley, England.

The finish was sandwiched in-between a Harry Kane penalty and Harry Maguire's winner as England began their charge in Group I with qualification for the winter World Cup in Qatar on the line.

Pope said: "The FA has enough scouts to be watching every player. If you’re not called up, that’s the opinion of the manager on the back of trusted eyes. It’s not based on rumour and stories.

“It’s something that if it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. There are a big few weeks for myself and this club which need concentrating on and there will be big weeks after the international break. It’s something that will look after itself.”

While Pope still has strong aspirations of rejoining the group, and challenging the likes of Jordan Pickford, Aaron Ramsdale, Sam Johnstone and Dean Henderson for the number one spot, he fully appreciates that there's a much more important task at hand.

PFA Premier League Team of the Year entrant for 2019-20 feels it would be disrespectful of his manager, his team-mates, the club and the fans if he was distracted from Burnley's survival bid.

Ahead of England's encounters with Switzerland and Maxwel Cornet's Ivory Coast next month, he said: “I’m not hoping at all because it’s so long away and there are a lot of important games at the minute. So for me to have half an eye on that would be disrespectful to this club and my team-mates.

“It’s something I haven’t given much thought to. To think anything else would not be doing justice to my team-mates, my manager and the club and the fans here.

“The club has done so much for me over the last few years, it’s going to be a team ethic that gets us to where we want to be.”