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The battle to be England number one: Can Pope force his way past Pickford and Ramsdale?

Nick Pope insists he is giving no thought to an England recall as he focuses on Burnley’s bid to climb off the foot of the Premier League table. However, his form suggests a recall would be warranted.

The 29-year-old was left out of Gareth Southgate's last two squads, having earned the most recent of his seven caps in a 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Poland in March last year.
"It's something that if it happens it happens and if it doesn't, it doesn't," said Pope when talking of a recall for the friendlies at the end of March. "There's a big few weeks for this club that need to be concentrated on. It's something that will look after itself."
Pope has seen himself fall down the pecking order despite conceding just one goal in seven international appearances.

Jordan Pickford retains the number one jersey, while Aaron Ramsdale is coming off an impressive debut campaign at Arsenal. Sam Johnstone and Dean Henderson are also in the mix as Qatar 2022 comes firmly into view.

So, could Pope force his way back into the reckoning? Planet Sport looks at Gareth Southgate's depth of goalkeeping options.

Aaron Ramsdale

Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal, Premier League, England
Signed from Sheffield United last summer, Ramsdale joined Arsenal having already experienced three relegations by the age of 23. The Stoke-born goalie was also joining a club where experienced German Bernd Leno was currently first-choice, but by the third week of the Premier League season, the £24million signing made his first start for Arsenal.
Ramsdale has since started every league match for the Gunners, conceding just 15 goals in his 19 Premier League appearances. He has kept 11 clean sheets in the league, putting him behind only the Brazilian pair of Ederson and Alisson.
The 23-year-old has made some vital saves for Mikel Arteta's men this season including a save of the season contender from Leicester's James Maddison.
Just two months after his first league game for the Gunners, Ramsdale made his England debut against San Marino.
And, after displacing Leno, he will now have his sights on doing the same with Jordan Pickford.

Jordan Pickford

Having amassed almost half a century of caps since making his England debut in 2017, Pickford is the man currently in possession of the number one jersey.
The former Sunderland goalkeeper has done little wrong in goal for England and has been widely praised for his shot-stopping and distribution, which suits the way the Three Lions like to play.
He was a vital part of the team that reached the World Cup semi finals in 2018 and the final of Euro 2020. He kept clean sheets in the first five games of the competition, as England went on to reach the final. So nearly the hero in the showpiece, he saved two Italian penalties in the penalty shootout, but ultimately saw England beaten.
However, now in his fifth season at Everton, Pickford along with the Toffees, has struggled in 2021/22. He has conceded 35 league goals, well over double the tally of Ramsdale and kept just four clean sheets. He has also made three errors leading to goals.
He will be hoping his England form is enough to keep him in the side because his Everton form definitely isn't.

Nick Pope

Standing at 6ft 6in, Burnley goalkeeper Pope is a different type of goalkeeper to both Ramsdale and Pickford.
Much more of a presence between the sticks, Pope's weakness is his feet and his ability to play out from the back.
However, Pope is a reliable choice for Burnley. Since joining in 2016, the former Charlton man has made 124 Premier League appearances, averaging a clean sheet once every three matches.
He played every minute of the 2019/20 season for Burnley, narrowly missing out on the Golden Glove award after keeping 15 clean sheets.
Pope made his England debut in 2018 against Costa Rica and was named in the 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup.
He became the first England goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in his first six international matches for the country after a shutout against Albania in March 2021.
However, knee surgery forced him out of Euro 2020 and Gareth Southgate is yet to trust him against an international heavyweight.

Sam Johnstone

Sam Johnstone, England, World Cup qualifiers
West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has been capped three times by England after playing in the national team's youth age groups from under-16s to under-20s level.
Since joining the Baggies, the former Manchester United keeper has gained recognition as being one of the best goalkeepers in the country. In 2020, the club were promoted back to the Premier League and although they went straight back down to the second tier, Johnstone's reputation was enhanced.
Johnstone has kept 12 clean sheets in 26 Championship matches this season, only conceding 19 behind a resolute Albion defence.
He was dropped in the latter stages of Valerian Ismael's reign at The Hawthorns, but is back in favour under Steve Bruce.
However, he needs to be pushing his case in the Premier League if he is to remain in the England picture.

Dean Henderson

Henderson has represented England from the under-16s all the way through to senior level. Like Ramsdale, he enjoyed arguably his best season while at Sheffield United on loan, before returning to parent club Manchester United.
During the second half of the 2020/21 season, Henderson looked to have snatched the United number one jersey from David de Gea, featuring in eight successive games and conceding just four goals. However, this season De Gea has been in inspired form to keep Henderson on the sidelines. It has restricted the 24-year-old to just three appearances, none of which have come in the league.
The lack of first-team football led to a number of reports linking Henderson with a move away from Old Trafford in January.
Nevertheless, he stayed put and was rewarded with an FA Cup appearance against Middlesbrough. United's subsequent exit means chances to impress will be even scarcer and he has surely got to move in the summer if he wants to force his way past Pickford and Ramsdale.

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