Last summer’s shoulder injury has hampered Nick Pope and his progress – but should he stay patient at Burnley or depart with Arsenal reportedly interested?
The 26-year-old goalkeeper, who enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last term, has been reduced to just three games following a severe shoulder injury over the summer.
Joe Hart and more recently, Tom Heaton have featured for Sean Dyche’s men this term in his absence – while Pope has been patiently biding his time, waiting for an opportunity to earn a starting berth again.
Two FA Cup starts, the latter of which saw the Clarets crash out after a 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City last week, could have been Pope’s last action of the campaign.
Clarets’ surge in form with Heaton in goal…
Heaton’s return as Burnley’s first-choice has coincided with an upturn in the club’s recent form. They’re unbeaten in the seven matches he’s started, while keeping two clean sheets and leaving the relegation zone too.
So why would Dyche take the risk, just to appease Pope? Although he was impressive and consistent last season, a position as sensitive as goalkeeper isn’t one to chop and change at will.
Given his aspirations to earn a return call-up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad, it’s understandable that speculation surrounding his future would present itself. According to The Sun, Arsenal are planning a summer move for him – to replace Petr Cech as a second-choice option in the coming years.
Considering north London rivals Tottenham were interested before Paulo Gazzaniga’s impressive form convinced them otherwise, it makes sense from the Gunners’ perspective. They would be signing a quality ‘keeper to challenge Bernd Leno for the number one spot long-term, for a relatively cheap price given his desire to play more regularly.
However, both Heaton and Hart are the wrong side of 30-year-old. Their contracts expire next summer, while Pope has an option to extend his deal for further year. Would a change of scenery and step-up in quality prove beneficial for him?