'I dream of being England's No.1' - Burnley's Pope eyeing Pickford's starting berth

Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope has admitted that he is targeting the England No.1 spot, which is currently held by Everton's Jordan Pickford.

Leading the Premier League in clean sheets this season with 11, the 28-year-old had a modest start in his career before accelerating to prominence over the last four years, when he was signed by Burnley from Charlton.

Having tasted international football on two occasions, though, he is eager for more game time with the Three Lions, with an eye on the opportunity to play in next summer’s European Championships, which will virtually be a home tournament for Gareth Southgate’s side.

“One of my main things is not to look too far ahead,” he told the Guardian. “I’m really looking after myself at Burnley. England is so far away, even though being the No.1 is something that I want. It’s a real dream of mine to play at Wembley and to represent England as many times as possible.”

Meanwhile, his trip to World Cup 2018, where he was the third-choice shot-stopper, is an experience that has only served to fuel his desire to play at the highest level.

“Although I didn’t play a game at the World Cup, to be part of that was still one of the greatest things of my life,” he continued.

“The biggest moment? Eric Dier scoring the winning penalty against Colombia. 

“As one of the goalkeepers, I’d done a lot of work with Eric and the other lads on the penalties, so to see them perform as they did was incredible. If you could stop time and rerun the adrenaline and everything you had for those couple of moments, it would be unbelievable.”

He hopes to hit those heights by remaining as grounded as possible in his approach.

“We could score in the 89th minute to go 2-1 up and, for me personally, you don’t want to run round doing knee-slides,” he said. “At that point, I’m thinking about getting over the line. That’s the feeling I want. The game is done and you’ve got the three points. 

“I don’t really have a temper and I like to be very relaxed. I’ve found it’s the best way for me to perform at my best. If a goalkeeper can have a calming influence, it’s something that can run through a team.”

Pope will hope to continue his strong form when the Premier League returns from the coronavirus suspension on June 17.