Newcastle United legend praises Nick Pope but identifies area for improvement

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The United legend has given his approval to one of his successors at St James Park.

Newcastle United legend Shay Given has hailed the impact made by Magpies goalkeeper Nick Pope - but insisted he still has room for improvement.

The England star has enjoyed a successful introduction to life at St James Park after making a £10million move to Tyneside during the summer.

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Pope kept clean sheets in the opening day win against Nottingham Forest and the goalless draw at Brighton and Hove Albion seven days later.

Despite conceding three goals in the six-goal thriller against Manchester City, the 30-year-old stopper was in fine form against Pep Guardiola’s men and was integral as Eddie Howe’s side secured a deserved point against the reigning Premier League champions.

Solid displays in the 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wednesday’s agonising loss at Liverpool only enhanced the belief that Pope has been a shrewd addition to the Magpies ranks.

Given believes the former Burnley keeper was a ‘no-risk’ signing and has been impressed by his performances so far this season.

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“He’s a fantastic signing, £10million, 30 years of age, Premier League experience” he told BT Sport.

“I think Eddie and his recruitment team have decided someone that knows the league, they haven’t took a risk on a foreign keeper that takes time to settle.

“Nick Pope has come in, he’s hit the ground running, and I was at the Manchester City game and he was phenomenal.

“He commands his box really well, his shot-stopping, but I just think he brings a calmness to the team.

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“When you’re walking out of the tunnel, if you know that guy playing behind you brings that calmness, that confidence, that assurance, I think it gives the team a good feeling before the game.

“He’s proven it at the start of the season, there was no risk bringing him in, but you have to start well.”

Shay Given in action for Newcastle United in 2008 (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)Shay Given in action for Newcastle United in 2008 (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Shay Given in action for Newcastle United in 2008 (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Much has been made of Pope’s ability to play out from the back and fit into the style utilised by Magpies manager Eddie Howe.

Given admitted he could see room from improvement in Pope’s distribution and insisted the keeper has to adjust from the style of play he worked under with his former club.

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“You see him warming up now, he’s doing lots of little clips out to full-backs or wing-backs, whatever it’s going to be in the game,” explained the former Republic of Ireland keeper.

“That’s the part he has to work on, he has to improve.

“Burnley, with no disrespect to Sean Dyche and the way they play, he was told to get the whole team up, hit certain targets, a Chris Wood for example.

“It’s going to be different, I think Eddie wants to play out from the back, play through the lines, and there are times you have to clear your lines, of course you do.

“But Nick Pope has to add that to his game.”

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