Burnley manager Sean Dyche has told goalkeeper Nick Pope to remain focused on his club form in the battle to be England’s number one next summer.
The 28-year-old’s fine displays in recent weeks have helped the Clarets recover from a poor start to the season to put together a three-match unbeaten run ahead of Monday’s home clash with Wolves.
Pope missed the 5-0 loss at Manchester City last month, but has conceded only once in his last six appearances for club and country to again highlight his quality and add further weight to the debate over who should be Gareth Southgate’s first-choice goalkeeper.
While Jordan Pickford currently holds possession of the jersey, he has recently been “rested” by Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti on two occasions and the fight to start for the Three Lions at the Euros next year is not the foregone conclusion it once was.
“His first job is to show me, the staff and his team-mates what a good keeper he is,” Dyche said of Pope.
His first job is to show me, the staff and his team-mates what a good keeper he isSean Dyche on Nick Pope
“The second job is to worry about England and that is what Gareth Southgate will do, it is his decision. He has some very good keepers at his disposal.
“Pope is doing a very good job of showing everybody what a top keeper he is at the minute and it starts with us.”
The four-cap international was at his best on Thursday to help Burnley pick up a point at Aston Villa after a stalemate where the hosts had 27 shots.
A standout save occurred in the 36th minute when Pope at full stretch tipped Anwar El Ghazi’s free-kick onto the crossbar.
Dyche added: “It was a top save, a world-class save. The rest of the night I thought he handled himself as we know he can because he’s a top keeper.
“Most of the other work is what we expect from him, a couple of clean takes when fired in from distance.
“There was good defensive shape from the side and when he was called upon he made good saves.”
Burnley’s upturn in form over the last few weeks has been a result of their structure at the back, with four clean sheets kept from their last six matches.
Goals remain elusive for the Clarets though, with Chris Wood the only player to have scored more than one goal in the top flight this term.
It was a similar story last season, with the New Zealand forward finding the net 14 times while Jay Rodriguez and Ashley Barnes were the club’s next top goalscorers with eight and six efforts respectively.
Wood and Barnes netted in 1-1 draws with Wolves during the 2019-20 campaign where stoppage-time penalties in the two encounters earned the home team a point on each occasion.
“Doing the basics well has been important all season,” Dyche said.
“Now we have to find the balance to open up the team to make sure we have a chance to score more goals.
“It is always a delicate balance for any club but certainly us.”