"I certainly believe Popey is an England-level goalkeeper" - Sean Dyche
A run of four clean sheets in eight games – and a number of eye-catching saves – could earn Nick Pope an England recall.
And Sean Dyche firmly believes he is worthy of a return to the international picture.
Pope has been instrumental in a miserly Burnley defence, which, having gone back to basics in a goal-less draw at Arsenal, has since shut out Watford, Brighton and Spurs – in front of Gareth Southgate – as the Clarets have boosted their Premier League survival hopes.
The Clarets have the ninth-best defensive record in the division, despite sitting 18th, and Pope has caught the eye of late with a number of fine saves, particularly in the 2-0 defeat at home to Leicester on Tuesday.
Pope was a regular in the squad for three years, travelling to the World Cup in Russia in 2018, earning seven caps, and conceding only one goal, while he started all three England games in last March’s international window.
However, a knee operation at the end of the season forced him out of Euro 2020, while Aaron Ramsdale replaced him at the tournament before making a big money switch to Arsenal.
Sam Johnstone of Championship side West Brom has joined number one Jordan Pickford in making up the goalkeeping pool since.
Johnstone is currently back in the Baggies side as captain, having been left out in the last days of Valerien Ismael’s reign due to an “internal issue”, and Pope could well displace the former Manchester United youngster.
Dyche, asked whether Pope had played himself back into contention to be selected, said: "I never thought he wasn't at the level, it's just Gareth can only pick who he thinks is right.
"I certainly believe Popey is an England-level goalkeeper, but I don't pick the team, I have total respect for Gareth and he has to pick the players he thinks are right for his side.
"I think what he's done is make big saves, to be fair, in the last eight games, the other night is the most he's been called upon.
"The others he's made maybe one or two big saves, rather than lots of them, just the quality of save.”
Pope kept Burnley in the game against Leicester, with first half stops in particular from Ricardo Pereira and Harvey Barnes top drawer.
Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers admitted: "He’s a top class goalkeeper. Pope makes a great save from Barnes early on. The keeper makes three very good saves.”
And Dyche added: "At his level of the market, certain saves a fan might see is a big save, in our world, it's standard for someone like Popey.
"But certain big saves, I thought there were two the other night, one from short range when he stood up big, it hits him and he reacts so quickly, and one down to his left, he was down so quickly, he does that very well.
"I think they are real saves.
"The one second half looks a big save, but I think they're saveable saves that Popey would normally make.
"But I think he's a top keeper.
"When he's called upon, he has that ability to make big saves, and he's certainly got fast eyes, he sees the picture quickly and improves on that all the time.”