'Big fella' - Burnley's Sean Dyche lauds Nick Pope amid England 'keeper debate

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has hinted that his goalkeeper Nick Pope should be given the nod to be England's number one at the rescheduled Euro 2020 this summer, emphasising the importance of his shot-stopping over technical ability with his feet.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 11:59 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 12:02 pm
Nick Pope of England.  (Photo by Adrian Dennis - Pool/Getty Images)
Nick Pope of England. (Photo by Adrian Dennis - Pool/Getty Images)

Speaking on the talkSPORT Breakfast Show, the Clarets manager was asked to give his verdict on the 28-year-old, whose display in England's 2-0 win over Albania last night saw him break the record for the most (six) consecutive clean sheets from a Three Lions goalkeeper after making their senior debut.

Dyche revealed: "I think he's development tremendously over the past few years. We got him out of Charlton as a 'keeper who'd been relegated actually - the same with Tom Heaton coming out of Bristol City back in the day - and I was never scared by people like that.

"He's learned a lot from those experiences, especially as a 'keeper, and he kept going, kept playing hard, and tried to do the right things, as did Tom.

"When he (Pope) came in, he got his head down, he learned wisely, he's improved no end. I think his biggest quality is he stands up - he's a big, big fella and he stands up for so long, making it difficult for centre-forwards.

"You see him in training, when he works. He's got that big frame, but he's really sharp to move. His general goalkeeping is very good, there's still improvements that he can make, but he's a very good goalkeeper in my opinion."

On the question of whether England boss Gareth Southgate should start Pope or Everton's Jordan Pickford this summer, Dyche kept his cards close to his chest, but suggested that his number one's shot-stopping prowess shouldn't be under-valued.

"The origins of goalkeeping have never been far away," Dyche said.

"Brian Clough, who was famous for what would now be known as 'playing the right way' used to say: 'the goalkeeper's first job is to stop the ball going in the net', so Pope is pretty good at that bit.

"I think Pickford is very good with his feet, and some 'keepers are... it's very rare you get a 'keeper who has everything. Pope is a massive fella physically, he's got great instinct to keep the ball out of the net. Can he improve with his feet? I'm sure he can... but to have the lot, to have everything in your locker when you're a 'keeper - or in any position for that matter - is unlikely.

He concluded: "Can he improve that? Yes he can. Will he? Definitely, in my opinion, because he can strike a ball, and make adjustments to the style he's needed to play. But he'll not lose sight of the fact that his main job is to keep the ball from going in the net."

Pope will have another chance to impress on Wednesday evening, when England round off their trio of 2022 World Cup qualification matches with a clash against Poland - a side who look more likely to pose Southgate's side problems.