Pope in dreamland after Premier League debut

DREAMLAND: Nick Pope
DREAMLAND: Nick Pope

Nick Pope conceded he had realised a dream by coming off the bench to make his Premier League debut on Sunday.

The 25-year-old, who hails from Wicken, had been limited to five cup appearances ever since he switched from Charlton Athletic to Burnley in the summer of 2016.

However, Pope’s moment finally arrived during the first half of Burnley’s top-flight encounter against Crystal Palace at Turf Moor.

England international Tom Heaton landed awkwardly on his shoulder and was unable to continue, presenting Pope with his first taste of Premier League action.

And he was not overawed by the situation, keeping a clean sheet in the Clarets’ 1-0 victory.

His display included good second-half saves to frustrate both Christian Benteke and Yohan Cabaye.

Speaking to Burnley’s website, the former King’s Ely pupil said: “You see goalkeepers up and down the country who might sit on the bench all season.

“It’s rare. It’s something that’s hard to prepare for but you have to come on and use the skills you do in training and have learned throughout your career and do the best you can.

“It’s something I wanted to do when I came from Charlton — to hopefully get Premier League games.

“The lads were excellent and to get a win on Premier League debut is stuff dreams are made of.”

The initial suspicion is that Heaton has suffered a dislocated shoulder, which if is proven to be the case, could see Pope enjoy an extended run between the posts, starting on Saturday at Anfield against Liverpool (3pm).

Meanwhile, Burnley manager Sean Dyche was delighted with Pope’s debut performance.

“It’s hard enough going into a game as a centre half when it’s tight,” he said.

“When you are a keeper and the result doesn’t go your way, even if it’s not your fault, people question you in that weird negative way that some folk do.

“Instead they will say he was fantastic and that will do him the world of good.”