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Wilkins delighted as Pope gets England call-up

ENGLAND CALLING: Nick Pope has been selected by the Three Lions
ENGLAND CALLING: Nick Pope has been selected by the Three Lions

Richard Wilkins believes former Bury Town goalkeeper Nick Pope is fully deserving of his first call-up to the senior England football squad.

The 25-year-old has been included by manager Gareth Southgate for friendlies with Holland (March 23) and Italy (March 27) after an impressive season between the posts for Premier League side Burnley.

After replacing the Clarets’ injured number one, Tom Heaton, on September 10, Pope has kept 10 clean sheets and has a save success rate of 77.5 per cent — both top-flight highs among English ‘keepers in 2017/18.

Wilkins taught Pope as part of the West Suffolk College scheme, as well as managing him during his time with Bury — and he is delighted with the news.

“I still speak to the lad regularly — he has done brilliantly so far,” said the current Needham Market boss.

“When you run a scheme like we do at West Suffolk College, to see him go on from it like he has is fantastic.

“He has kept a lot of clean sheets for Burnley and deserves his chance.

“If anybody deserves the accolades it is him because he worked so hard at college. He never gave up.

“He struggled to kick the ball outside the box when he first arrived at college but we worked at it.”

Pope played for Bury Town between 2008 and 2011, when he joined League One side Charlton Athletic.

His move to Burnley came about in the summer of 2016.

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