Newcastle United star’s ‘fire is still burning’ for place in England’s World Cup squad

The Magpies number one has spoken out about his international ambitions.

Newcastle United star Nick Pope has revealed his determination to be part of the England squad that will travel to Qatar for the World Cup Finals later this year.

The former Burnley goalkeeper is currently with the Three Lions squad preparing for Nations League fixtures against Italy and Germany later this week.

An injury to regular number one Jordan Pickford means Pope will have to see off competition from Dean Henderson and Aaron Ramsdale if he wants to add to his eight senior caps.

The 30-year-old stopper has impressed during the early weeks of his career at St James Park, keeping three clean sheets in seven appearances and he has quickly become a reliable figure in Eddie Howe’s side.

For now, his focus is on international matters, and Pope has revealed the ‘fire’s still burning’ as he looks to seal a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the finals in Qatar.

He said: “I was lucky enough to be part of the last one. I was unlucky or unfortunate to miss out on the Euros because of my knee surgery, so that fire’s still burning for myself.

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“Being part of a major tournament for England is the biggest stage you can possibly get to. In a footballer’s career, you don’t see too many.

“If you get to three World Cups, you’ve done unbelievably well. It’s special to have that opportunity, and it’ll be a target.”

Pope has earned praise from a number of onlookers during the first eight weeks of the Premier League season, with Magpies legend Shay Given described the United keeper as phenomenal following the 3-3 draw with Manchester City.

That has led some to speculate he could become a genuine challenger to become England’s regular number one over the coming months - but Pope is realistic about the challenges that lie ahead as he looks to establish himself at the top level.

“I think international football’s something is earned by how you play for your club,” he explained.

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“Newcastle now will hopefully be seen, and be grown to be seen, as a club where internationals will regularly come from. Moving here, and playing in this team, is something that will help me get England caps.

“I’m never going to be a goalkeeper that gets 50, 60 caps. I’m 30. I’m not being unrealistic, but I feel there’s more for me, and I want to see how many I get. It’s another ambition.”

Pope is joined in the England squad by Magpies team-mate Kieran Trippier as United are represented by two players in the Three Lions ranks for the first time since 2007 when Scott Parker and Alan Smith were called up by Steve McClaren.

One of the key drivers behind Pope’s move to St James Park was to boost his international prospects - and the United keeper has revealed he was ‘battering’ Trippier with questions about life on Tyneside, rather than asking England manager Gareth Southgate for advice.

When asked if he discussed a potential move to Tyneside with the England boss, he said: “Not really. It wasn’t done by then (when met up for summer England games).

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“I was more battering Tripps with questions, asking him what it was like. I was asking what the club was like, what the players were like, just asking him general questions, and getting a feel for the club.”