Nick Pope is set to be given more chances to stake his claim as England’s first-choice goalkeeper ahead of the European Championship – with manager Gareth Southgate confirming he will play in the next two World Cup qualifiers.
Jordan Pickford has been established as Southgate’s number one for some time but has missed out on the ongoing international triple-header with an abdominal injury.
That left Pope and Dean Henderson vying for the gloves for the qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland.
The rescheduled Euro 2020 is next up on the international calendar and Pope looks in pole position to challenge Pickford for a place between the posts.
The Burnley stopper played in Thursday’s 5-0 win over San Marino, taking his run of clean sheets to five in five for England, and Southgate revealed he is set to keep his spot for the next two fixtures.
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Sunday 28th March 10:30pm
“Nick was always going to play the next games anyway,” Southgate said when asked if Pope had been given a chance to show his worth in a routine win over the world’s worst ranked footballing nation.
“He has been really patient for his opportunity and has performed consistently at a high level every week for his club and has been with us for a very long time waiting for this moment.
“He is a very calm character and I really like his personality. We obviously knew he was not going to be overworked but I am sure that will be different in the next games.”
Another player who will be hoping for more minutes in the upcoming games with an eye on a place at Euro 2020 is midfielder Jude Bellingham.
The 17-year-old is England’s third-youngest senior international of all-time and made his competitive debut off the bench in the San Marino win.
Bellingham is enjoying a fine season at Borussia Dortmund and recently shone in their Champions League tie against Sevilla.
“The only disappointment for Jude is that he is not playing in front of 80,000 fans at Dortmund every week, which would be another incredible experience,” added Southgate.
“But we saw in his games with Sevilla a level of performance and commitment that really made us think, ‘We want to help him to develop now under us’.”
Foden: Extra year to prepare will help young players
Manchester City’s Phil Foden is relishing the chance to capitalise on an extra year of development to play for England at the European Championship – but knows his place in the squad is not a given just yet.
Foden, 20, also made his England debut in September and opened his international account with a double in a Nations League win over Iceland two months later and feels the squad’s younger players will benefit from the extra year they have had to prepare for the rearranged Euro 2020 finals.
“It has given us that extra time to play at our clubs because obviously we are all very young,” he said.
“So maybe it has helped us get the opportunity to get in now. That appears to be the case. Hopefully we will win the league and maybe a couple more trophies this year.
“That would give me the confidence to push on and be in the England team, for sure. Trying to get as much experience as possible and you have to play games to get the experience so I am trying to keep playing in the biggest games I can and keep improving my game.”
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