Nick Pope accepts he may only have ‘half a chance’ of making England’s World Cup squad but considers that a success in itself having started the season as Burnley’s No 2.
Gareth Southgate will name the 23 men who will head to Russia on Wednesday, with questions still to answer in the goalkeeping department.
Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland look set to travel as first and second choice, leaving the uncapped Pope head to head with the vastly-experienced Joe Hart.
Nick Pope is thrilled just to be considered for a place in England’s World Cup squad
There is no doubt who has enjoyed the better season, Pope sweeping the end-of-year awards as the Clarets secured Europa League football while Hart was in and out of the side at struggling West Ham.
But Pope will not cry foul if he misses out on a call he had barely contemplated before Tom Heaton’s shoulder injury saw him promoted from the Burnley bench.
‘At the start of the season you’re looking at being a number two goalkeeper and possibly getting a handful of games over a season so it’s something I couldn’t even dream about then,’ he said.
‘But as I sit here I’ve maybe got half a chance of getting on the plane and going to Russia, which would be a massive achievement in itself, let alone playing.
Gareth Southgate will announce his 23-man England squad to make the trip to Russia
‘If I hadn’t made the squad in March I would be sitting here thinking I’ve got a very small chance but to make that squad gave me a little bit of hope.
‘Fingers crossed something comes but if not I get to enjoy my holidays feeling fresh and ready to go again.’
The 26-year-old has penned one of the year’s most pleasing rags to riches stories, given his early career trawl through loan stints at the likes of Harrow Borough, Welling United, Cambridge and Aldershot.
When Roy Hodgson took England to the World Cup in Brazil four years ago, Pope had just finished a spell at League Two York and took in the tournament at his local pub – a far cry from his recent training camp at St George’s Park.
Pope has been a rock in the Burnley goal this season and has earned an unlikely hope
‘I would have watched the last one at home or in the Maid’s Head,’ he recalled. ‘But England was a really open environment to be in, you could talk to anyone including the manager.
‘I was lucky enough to speak to him for a good time, explain to him how much I enjoyed the camp, how I liked the environment and say thanks for calling me up.
‘He’s an easy person to get on with but back then there was still 8-10 games to go in the Premier League so nothing was ever going to be signed, sealed and delivered then.
‘He just said to me, ‘keep going, keep working on your game and we’ll see where we are at the end of the season’.’
The 26-year-old never imagined being in this position at the start of the season
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.