Young Clarets goalkeeper Nick Pope feels that the influential people around him at Turf Moor are enhancing his development as a player.
The 24-year-old, signed from Charlton Athletic for £1m in the summer, admits that he’s feeling the benefits of being around England international Tom Heaton, former Three Lions stopper Paul Robinson and coach Billy Mercer every day.
Pope, who made 38 appearances for the Addicks, with his last coming at the Valley as the Clarets cemented the Championship title last term, has certainly made a big impression since sealing his move and was rewarded with his second start for Sean Dyche’s side at the weekend where he kept a clean sheet in the stalemate against Sunderland in the FA Cup third round tie at the Stadium of Light.
“I feel that I’ve developed a lot,” he said. “Training every day is sharper and for myself I’m doing a lot of gym work as well. I’m just pushing myself. I feel I’ve progressed a lot over the first six months and I’ve enjoyed it a lot as well.
“I noticed it was a higher intensity coming here from Charlton.
“That’s what we try and do on the pitch as well so it’s good to do that in training. It’s definitely helped me to improve being around that every day.”
Pope, who started his career with Non-League outfit Bury Town, added: “Having two England goalkeepers alongside me helps. They’ll steer me in the right direction. I work with them every day, and goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer, which will only turn me in to a better keeper. That’s part of the reason why I joined Burnley in the summer.
“I’m having a great experience with them and they’re all helping me. I’m quite young for a goalkeeper so they’re all helping me move forward with different aspects of my game.
“I can ask them questions about things that have happened in games or training as well. I’ve got three great people who I can speak to who want to help me improve my game.”
Pope, who helped Bury climb to League One during a loan spell a couple of seasons ago, has featured heavily for Michael Jolley’s development squad this term.
The Soham-born stopper’s ambition is to upgrade from the Premier League Cup to the majestic realms of the Premier League in the near future, but he’s more than happy with the path that has been put in place for him.
“There’s a plan for me and I’m fully aware of that,” he said. “I know the plan for me and the process that’s happening. I’m happy with that.
“The manager has backed me today by playing me which is a big boost, especially getting 90 minutes at a stadium like this against a good team. He’s showing a lot of faith in me.
“We’ve spoken about my path right from the start, with Billy Mercer as well. They sat me down as soon as I got in to the building, the day I signed, and since then we’ve had progress meetings to see how I’m doing. He’s been really good for me.
“The long term is to be ready to play for the club in the Premier League. That’s the goal. I need to be as ready as possible for when the opportunity comes.
“I’ll keep working hard day in day out, Monday to Friday, and if the chance comes to play at the weekend I’ll do the best that I can.”