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Dyche talks up Pope's England chances but shrugs off talk of Europe

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NEWS
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373   //    14 Apr 2018, 23:07 IST
NickPope - Cropped
Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope

Sean Dyche believes Nick Pope will have boosted his World Cup chances with another impressive display in front of England manager Gareth Southgate on Saturday.

The Burnley goalkeeper made fine saves in each half from Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as the Clarets defeated Leicester City 2-1 at Turf Moor to strengthen their grip on seventh place in the Premier League.

Pope could do little as Vardy reduced Leicester's deficit in the second period, but the 25-year-old was a commanding presence in what threatened to be a nervy final 20 minutes for the home side.

Having only made it into the Burnley team due to Tom Heaton's shoulder injury earlier this season, Pope has held onto his position even with the club captain back fit, and his performances earned him a maiden international call-up for recent friendlies against Netherlands and Italy, where he was an unused sub.

"Inevitably it's who will perform on the pitch but Nick Pope has certainly done himself no harm in front of the England manager. He was outstanding today," Dyche told BBC Sport, after Southgate had sat in the stands to witness Burnley's fifth straight victory.

That win moves the Clarets nine points clear of eighth-placed Leicester and, with five matches remaining, seemingly only an unlikely FA Cup triumph for struggling Southampton would deny the club a place in Europe for the first time since 1966-67.

"Our story is still about getting as many points as we can get. The next game is the big game," Dyche added. "We are in a strong set mentally because that's what winning does.

"In five and a half years there has been a lot of work done here. We have had some tough times and some very good times. Who knows what it will bring but we will just wait and see."

Dyche's opposite number Claude Puel was left to rue falling behind to goals from Chris Wood and Kevin Long inside nine minutes as Burnley made a whirlwind start. The Frenchman conceded his own side's hopes of Europa League football next season are effectively over.

"I think so, yes," he said. "Of course there are games remaining but they [Burnley] now have a lot of chances. It is difficult because we lose our run for the Europa League but congratulations to Burnley. They deserve it.

"They have been consistent in their play. There were a lot of battles in the beginning of the match. It was close but after the two goals it was surprising.

"It's difficult to accept but, I repeat, Burnley deserve it. For us, it is important to finish well because it was a good journey. We want to finish strong for the fans."

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