Nick Pope has made flying start to life at Newcastle with most saves and best goal conversion ratio in Premier League as ‘brilliant’ star could seize England chance with Jordan Pickford injury

    Nick Pope will be keen to take his Newcastle form into national setup following a stunning start to the season.

    Pope, a £10million summer signing from relegated Burnley, has the opportunity to stake his claim to be England’s No.1 in Qatar.

    Pickford’s injury may open the door for Pope to start for England

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    Pickford’s injury may open the door for Pope to start for England

    The 30-year-old is expected to deputise for Gareth Southgate’s first choice Jordan Pickford following the Everton star’s recent thigh injury.

    Pope, who has eight senior caps, is rivalling Aaron Ramsdale and Dean Henderson for the shot at featuring in England’s Nations League double-header with Italy and Germany this month.

    But Newcastle’s player of the month for August is surely the standout candidate after enhancing his growing reputation this season.

    Eddie Howe said: “Nick’s been brilliant for us from day one.”

    “If he didn’t [have ambitions to start for England], I’d say he needs to review his ambitions because when you’re in his position, you’re close, you’re close to playing. He’s only a couple of positions away.

    “You’ve got to reach and you’ve got to strain to try to make that jump and certainly with the start he’s made for us, he’s done himself no harm.”

    Pope has made an impressive start to his career on Tyneside

    Paul ELLIS / AFP

    Pope has made an impressive start to his career on Tyneside

    No Premier League goalkeeper has made more saves than Pope in 2022-23, with the 6ft 6in shot-stopper boasting 28 from six games.

    That’s all the more impressive considering only Nottingham Forest (42) have faced more shots on target than Newcastle (36) so far this term.

    Yet the Magpies have conceded just six goals, meaning Pope has ensured only 17 per cent of the shots on target he’s faced have gone in – which is the lowest percentage in the Premier League.

    Pope’s three clean sheets have also seen him level the likes of Manchester City’s Ederson and Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez in the standings.

    A towering presence in goal, Pope also averages the third-most catches in England’s top-flight (1.5 per 90) and joint-sixth-most punches.

    The question mark that always surrounded the Cambridge-born star concerned his kicking, however, that is an area he continues to improve in.

    Pope has proven to be one of the best value-for-money signings of the summer

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    Pope has proven to be one of the best value-for-money signings of the summer

    Pope has reduced his average length of pass from 52.8 yards last season to 44.1, according to FBref.com, meaning he’s much more accustomed to playing short rather than kicking long now.

    “I know what people say about my kicking,” Pope told The Athletic in August ahead of the start of the season.

    “I hope to change that opinion of me here. The tactics at Burnley were different. Kicking it long was what I was asked to do.

    “I’m looking forward to being part of a team where more is expected of myself.”

    Pope will be back in the limelight against Bournemouth live on talkSPORT this weekend but expectations would pale in comparison to playing for England at a World Cup.

    But based on his start to life at Newcastle, Pope will surely relish that…

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