Nick Pope is yet to appear for England at the World Cup, but he has received praise from fellow goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
The Newcastle United stopper is part of the Three Lions squad that is currently in Qatar. They are preparing to face France on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the semi finals.
It has been a wonderful tournament so far for England, with Pickford one of their most consistent performers. The Everton goalkeeper has kept three clean sheets out of a possible four, thriving as he normally does in an England shirt.
The 28-year-old needs to maintain this level of performance – especially given the quality behind him. Gareth Southgate also has Pope and Aaron Ramsdale in his squad, who have been two of the best stoppers in the Premier League this season.
Neither of them have featured at the World Cup yet, but Pickford has gone out of his way to praise his two goalkeeping teammates.
Pickford on Pope
Ahead of the game against France, Pickford has been speaking to the Lions’ Den on England’s official YouTube channel. He discussed training, and how intensely he works alongside Pope and Ramsdale.
“Me, Popey and Rammers work well together,” Pickford said.
“But we never have a day off. Every time we train, we train properly. We work our nuts off every single day.
“But then we’ve got finishing drills. You’re in goal against the top boys. You’ve got the likes of Harry Kane, Rashy against you everyday in training. It’s going to get the best out of you because they’re ruthless. You’re doing well to make saves against them. But when you do you’ve got that confidence boost.
“But training with Marge [Martyn Margetson], Popey and Rammers – the level is really high.”
Unlikely we will see Pope play
The role of a backup goalkeeper is a difficult one. You must have to be very strong mentally to know you have such an important job despite the fact you’re not playing.
That is the position Pope finds himself in, and Pickford has praised the Newcastle 30-year-old for helping ensure the ‘level is really high’ in training.
Sadly for the former Burnley man, it is highly unlikely that he will appear at the World Cup in Qatar. Unless he suffers an injury, there is no way that Pickford will be replaced. And even if he was, it is unclear who Southgate fancies more between Pope and Ramsdale.
But Pope is performing well in training, and has played a part in England’s success so far. However, the sooner we see him in the middle of the goal at St James’ Park the better!