Tom Heaton: Nick Pope 'right in the mix' to become England number one

Nick Pope is ‘right in the mix’ to replace Jordan Pickford as England’s number one goalkeeper, says former team-mate Tom Heaton… as Burnley shot stopper impresses once again in shock Clarets win at Liverpool

  • Nick Pope kept a clean sheet in Burnley’s shock 1-0 win at Liverpool on Thursday
  • The Burnley man is closing in on the England number one shirt, says Tom Heaton
  • Gareth Southgate has persisted with Jordan Pickford between the England sticks
  • Heaton claims Pope rises to the big occasion and deserves an international run 

Nick Pope is challenging Jordan Pickford for the England number one spot but his international starting chances could be damaged by Burnley’s style of play, claims Tom Heaton.

The Burnley goalkeeper kept a clean sheet in the Clarets’ 1-0 victory at Liverpool on Thursday night, with Pope making several impressive stops in the shock Anfield win. 

Pope is currently behind Everton’s Jordan Pickford in the goalkeeper pecking order for Gareth Southgate’s England, but Heaton claims the Burnley man is closing in on the number one jersey at international level.

Nick Pope’s (left) recent performances for Burnley should worry current England number one Jordan Pickford (right), says Tom Heaton

Heaton claims Pope is closing in on a starting spot between the stick at international level

The Aston Villa goalkeeper told Sky Sports: ‘I think he’s challenging (Pickford). He’s right in that mix. He needs to keep on performing and producing performances like he did tonight. 

‘There will be a challenge on his hands as Burnley don’t play the same style of play as England. All he can do is keep putting on performances. 

‘He’s right in the England mix, he’s in the manager’s mind. More of the same from him (is needed).’

The shutout at Anfield means Pope has now kept 22 clean sheets since the start of the 2019-20 season. Only Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson has more in this period time with 26. 

Pope kept a brilliant clean sheet for Burnley in their shock 1-0 win at Liverpool on Thursday

The 28-year-old also made the joint-most amount of saves in a single Premier League game this season on Thursday night with six.  

An England starting spot for Pope looked likely at the start of the season when Pickford started the campaign poorly, but Southgate has stuck with the Everton man in their key Nations League matches this term. 

Heaton claims, however, that Pope revels in the big occasion and that his recent performances have caught the eye of his international team-mates.  

England boss Gareth Southgate (left) has persisted with Pickford (right) so far this season

When asked before the match whether Pope plays better against stronger teams, Heaton added: ‘Yes, I think so. When there’s plenty of action to go round, there’s plenty of cases to showcase his skills. 

‘One of the things that makes him an outstanding player is his shot-stopping ability. He’s getting better and better. 

‘It was interesting when Jack Grealish came back from England duty for the first time, one of the first things he said is how difficult he is to get the ball past.’

Pope made his England debut in the Three Lions’ final Euro 2020 qualifying game against Kosovo in November 2019 and has played three times since then – two of them coming in the recent friendly wins over Wales and Ireland last year. 

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