Former Liverpool star says Gareth Southgate was right to snub Newcastle United star

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Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope was left out of the latest England squad.

Former England goalkeeper David James has agreed with Gareth Southgate’s decision to leave Nick Pope out of his squad.

While Newcastle United duo Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson were called up for Friday’s Euro qualifier against Ukraine and the 150th Anniversary Heritage match versus Scotland on Tuesday, Pope was a surprise absence.

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The 31-year-old was forced to withdraw from the squad for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia in June after undergoing finger surgery, an issue that persisted throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season.

Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) | Getty Images

He completed his rehabilitation in the off-season and returned for the second game of the Premier League Summer Series in the United States - a 1-1 draw against Chelsea.

“It was just a finger that kept dislocating too easily, which is not ideal for a goalkeeper,” Pope explained. “The joint kept dislocating, so I had to get it stabilised. I had a kind of anchor put in it, and then got it taped up with some cotton wool.

“There were probably four or five times over the course of six months where it happened. There was one at the World Cup, one in September and a couple around games after that. It wasn’t like it was happening all the time, and it was normal stuff setting it off really, nothing drastic.

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“But every time it dislocated, it was getting weaker and the joint was getting weaker. It was one of those situations where if I did nothing about it, it was only going to get worse.

“I wasn’t pushing it back in – I left that to the doctor. I didn’t really want to look at it to be honest, it would happen, then I would glance down at my hand and then look away.”

Pope started all three of United’s opening Premier League matches versus Aston Villa, Manchester City and Liverpool prior to Southgate naming his squad. Against Brighton on Saturday, the former Charlton Athletic goalkeeper made a mistake that led to the first of Evan Ferguson’s three goals.

Southgate has called up Everton’s Jordan Pickford, Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Crystal Palace’s Sam Johnstone, and James believes it is the correct decision.

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“It hasn’t been the best [start of the season] for him,” James told Sky Sports News. “Long-term, when you look at the opportunities Nick Pope had in the Nations League, he had a couple of games and didn’t prove himself to be better than Jordan Pickford.

“With Aaron Ramsdale, he’s been playing very well for Arsenal and puts himself in a more preferable position than Nick Pope at the moment. Sam Johnson, naturally, gets an opportunity to be looked at.”

James earned 53 caps for England while making over 500 Premier League appearances for the likes of Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City and Portsmouth.

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