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Pope Thriving on Keeper Culture

Nick Pope puts superb start down to strength of goalkeeping department

1 November 2017

Nick Pope says working with Tom Heaton and a top-class goalkeeping department at the Barnfield Training Centre has helped him come of age in the Premier League.

Pope was thrust into centre stage when Heaton sustained a shoulder injury four games into the campaign.

The 25-year-old has not looked back since, playing a key role in the Clarets’ on-going flying start to the season.

Since he moved to the Clarets from Charlton Athletic in the summer of 2016, Pope has worked alongside England internationals Heaton and Paul Robinson.

This season, he has been joined in the ranks by Denmark international and ex-Manchester United keeper Anders Lindegaard and the experience of former Birmingham City man Adam Legzdins.

And Pope puts his success down to working with players of that calibre under the guidance of long-serving goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer.

“It’s just really good to have these sort of people around day-to-day,” said the current Clarets’ first-choice.

“I’ve also been able to watch a lot of Heats and over the past year-and-a-half he’s been one of the best goallies in the Premier League.

“Just to be able to watch him and see how he works day-in, day-out and how he works at the weekend has probably benefited me more probably than the things he might say.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Tom, to be honest. He’s a top guy. He’s a real club captain, a real leader and a great character.

“I still speak to him on a daily basis. He’s still great to see, he’s still in high spirits and so it’s still great when I do speak to him.

“Billy as well. He’s been in the game a long time and he has helped me kick on my game even more since I joined.”

Having previously been restricted to cup duty with the Clarets, Pope completed a fourth clean sheet in the Premier League with a couple of vital saves as Burnley beat Newcastle United 1-0 on Monday night to go seventh in the table.

The towering gloveman is now ranked third in the league for numbers of saved made – behind only Swansea City’s Lukasz Fabianski and Asmir Begovic of Bournemouth.

In save success rate, Pope actually tops the pile with his 87.2 per cent surpassing that of Manchester United’s David de Gea.

And while Pope is happy to be named in such exalted company, the former Ipswich Town junior is not getting carried away after only seven top-flight appearances on his CV.

“It’s early on in my Premier League career, so I’ve just got to keep my feet on the ground and I’m taking it week-by-week,” he added.

“We’ve had a good start to the season and thankfully I’ve been part of that. I am really enjoying my time in the team.

“It’s not something you look too much into, although obviously it’s nice to have those statistics.”

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