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Pope Poised For Cup Call

Nick Pope likely to keep FA Cup job as Clarets aim to de-rail City bandwagon

24 January 2019

Nick Pope looks likely to be the man charged with trying to repel Manchester City’s star-studded attack as the Clarets bid to stop City’s trophy charge.

The reigning Premier League champions reached the final of the Carabao Cup in mid-week as they completed a 10-0 semi-final victory over Burton Albion.

Pep Guardiola’s side are still in the Champions League and chasing down Liverpool in the domestic title race after scoring their 100th goal of the season in last weekend’s 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town.

But Burnley will be bidding to put an early halt to City's aspirations of winning an unprecedented quadruple with an FA Cup upset at the Etihad Stadium.

And with widespread changes expected to the Clarets side – whose own run of form has seen them go five games unbeaten – it looks like Pope will start again in goal after keeping a clean sheet in Burnley’s third-round win over Barnsley.

“It’s not definite, but there’s a fair chance he’ll play,” said manager Sean Dyche, whose side follows the trip to City with a mid-week visit to Manchester United and then a key fixture against Southampton at Turf Moor in the Premier League.

“There’s a big task for us this weekend, but there’s no lack of respect.

“We will make changes, almost definitely.

“We’ve got a big week again next week, with three in a week, and we’re still searching for everyone to get fit.

“Some will play that need the game, but it’s not because a lack of respect, it’s the facts of modern football.”

The Clarets’ primary objective has to be trying to maintain their top-flight status, with a return of 10 points from the last 12 helping significantly in that aim.

And it’s concentrating on what will serve Burnley best that is occupying Dyche’s thoughts, rather than worrying about how City will approach the latest leg of their trophy quest.

“It’s more about us and one thing we have definitely done is re-focus quite heavily on us,” added the Burnley boss.

“It’s not that we weren’t, but I think we’ve added extra weight to that and that maybe is something that goes into the thinking.

“There will be a consideration about us. We know the power of Manchester City, as everyone does.

“We know they can probably change the whole team and still put out a very competitive side in the Premier League, let alone in the Cup.”

As well as a likely outing for Pope, who could play his second senior game since returning from long-term injury, winger Robbie Brady is also set for a welcome return from a three-match ban.

But fellow wideman Johann Berg Gudmundsson may not make it back and Matt Lowton is also unexpected to figure because of a toe injury.

Phil Bardsley is only a “maybe” but the likes of Stephen Ward, Kevin Long and Ben Gibson will be pushing for a defensive start and the chance to try and reverse a third-round defeat at City last January.

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