Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope ‘doing what Gareth Southgate wants’, says former Liverpool and England star
The Magpies stopper has already made Three Lions history during the early part of his England career.
The Magpies stopper has impressed during his first two appearances since he moved to St James Park in a reported £10million move this summer.
Pope was left with little to do on his competitive debut as Eddie Howe’s side produced a dominant display in a 2-0 home win against Nottingham Forest.
But the former Charlton Athletic stopper was pressed into action on several occasions as he put in an impressive display in Saturday’s goalless draw at Brighton and Hove Albion.
The clean sheet kept in the latter of those two games meant Pope is the first Magpies keeper to go without conceding in the opening two Premier League fixtures of the season since Tim Krul 11 years ago.
The 30-year-old seems to have gained the upper-hand on Martin Dubravka in the battle to become Howe’s first-choice keeper and will hope to continue his impressive form when Premier League champions Manchester City visit St James Park on Sunday afternoon.
That will hand Pope a chance to impress England manager Gareth Southgate as he looks to secure a place in his squad for the World Cup later this year.
There had been concerns over Pope’s ability to play out from the back but former Three Lions number one James believes he has already shown he can match what Southgate and Magpies manager Howe want from their goalkeeper.
He told Sky Sports: “I think Nick Pope will definitely be focused (on the World Cup), similar to myself when I left Liverpool to join Aston Villa.
“My focus was playing for England and Nick Pope going to Newcastle, when you’re talking about the feet stuff, Nick Pope is without doubt capable of doing everything Eddie Howe wants him to do.
“Otherwise, Eddie Howe wouldn’t get him there.
“Eddie Howe, and we’ve talked about this for many years, wants to play out from the back, his goalkeeper is an integral part of that, of course.
“What I have noticed is interesting with Nick from watching the videos, the guy throws a lot. Not because he’s worried about his feet, but to get moves started quickly.
“Now if you’re trying to impress Gareth Southgate, to play a style of football which is more akin the goalkeeper he has in Jordan Pickford, what Nick Pope is doing and is going to be doing at Newcastle is what Gareth Southgate wants.
“I think he’s focused on taking over a number one and wanting to be that one in Qatar.”
Pope will have just under a month to impress Southgate before the England manager names his squad for September’s Nations League double-header against Italy and Germany.
The Magpies keeper already has eight senior caps to his name and set a Three Lions record by becoming the first goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in each of his first six appearances.