England's Pope ready for Heaton challenge amid World Cup race

Goalkeeper Nick Pope is prepared to fight off competition from Burnley team-mate Tom Heaton to earn a place in England's World Cup squad.

Published : Mar 20, 2018 23:22 IST

Nick Pope is ready to battle for an England place, even if he acknowledges that soon he may no longer be guaranteed a start with club side Burnley.

The 25-year-old has benefited from Tom Heaton's injury this season at Turf Moor, playing regularly in the Premier League for Sean Dyche's men and impressing enough to earn a first international call-up for this month's friendlies against Netherlands and Italy.

Pope is one of four goalkeepers in the England squad and hopes to have an opportunity, but he knows he must perform for club and country if he is to hold off competition from returning Three Lions international Heaton, with the World Cup just three months away.

"Things change quickly in football," he told a news conference. "Things are rarely set in stone over any period of time.

"Tom Heaton is coming back from injury himself so I'm not taking anything for granted at club level, let alone England level. That's the way you have to be.

"There has got to be a number one. Come the World Cup, there is going to be one goalkeeper who has that spot. There's eight games left of the Premier League season and it's every man for himself.

"I want it to be me. It's a massive honour to represent your country and then go to the World Cup.

"You've got be hungry to push yourself and challenge yourself. International football would be a new challenge for me, but a challenge I want to take on."

As Pope hopes to make his England bow in this international break, he acknowledges this could be a key week for his chances of going to the World Cup.

"I don't know what choice I'd be, but there's work to do," Pope said. "There's two friendlies now and a couple at the end of the season, as well as Premier League matches to play, and I think every minute will count.

"I'm here now, so that's a bonus. If I wasn't in the squad, I'd have been an outsider at best for the World Cup.

"I've got to prove myself at this level. I've enjoyed the training; I've come here to enjoy it and show what I'm about. I want to play for England."

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