Pope is pleased to see skipper's return

Sean Dyche will have a decision on his hands when skipper Tom Heaton returns to full fitness, but goalkeeper Nick Pope says that the competition in-house is testimony to the squad that the Burnley boss has built.

Thursday, 25th January 2018, 10:30 pm
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The 25-year-old, signed from Charlton Athletic in the summer of 2016, has proved more than just an able deputy since the England international sustained a shoulder injury in victory over Crystal Palace at Turf Moor in September.

Pope, who has done his time circulating the lower leagues with the likes of Cambridge United, Aldershot and York City, has kept 10 clean sheets in the Premier League this season, making 66 saves in the process.

The Soham-born stopper, who began his career in Ipswich Town’s academy, having been a season-ticket holder at Portman Road, accepts that his isn’t the only position to be well stocked.

“That’s something that’s further down the line than right now, I just have to keep playing games and keep doing my best and we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

“That’s a great thing we’ve got here, we come in and train as hard as each other and that’s what pushes us to be better. There’s no bad blood anywhere.

“The margins are tight at this club with the squad and the personnel in each position, it’s close between who gets that spot on the Saturday.

“It’s like that all over the squad and that’s the way it should be. We’re all pushing each other every week to keep those margins fine.”

Heaton had made the role his own since making his debut against Bolton Wanderers almost four-and-a-half years ago.

The one-time Bristol City keeper played 142 games in succession for the Clarets before missing last season’s loss to Manchester City at Turf Moor and has shut up shop on 40 occasions.

And Pope says that his team mate’s return has given the group a lift.

He said: “He’s a great character to have around and we’ve enjoyed having him outside with us again. It’s been good.

“When you’re injured it’s difficult, it’s the hardest thing about football, especially when you’re out for an extended amount of time.

“So to come back is a boost not only for him but for the lads to have the captain back out and there’s a buzz around.

“Everyone is buzzing for him really, to see him out because we know how he feels.

“He’s looking good. It’s his first week so he’s not 100 per cent but it’s good to have him back out and looking good.”