Pope eyes England jersey in Pickford's absence

Nick Pope says he is happy to be setting a good foundation at Newcastle as he prepares to lay down a marker for the England World Cup squad.

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The 30-year-old is in pole position to take over from the injured Jordan Pickford for the Nations League games against Italy and Germany

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 this weekend and he credits his move to St James' Park as essential for helping nudge him up the queue.

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" From my first day of pre-season, I've felt like I was proving myself again," said Pope. "I wanted to get into the team and be part of a side moving in the right direction.

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" I'm happy how I've started and looking forward to gaining more wins and clean sheets for Newcastle.

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" Every player wants to play in the World Cup and my best chance of that is to play well if I get the opportunity in this camp and then go back to Newcastle and kick on.

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" Part of the move there was to take myself to the next level and push myself to be the best player I could be."

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Pope has eight caps for England but has struggled for opportunities with Pickford clearly established as manager Gareth Southgate's first choice.

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" He has been top drawer for England for a number of years now," Pope said of Everton's Pickford.

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 "Him not being here will hopefully open the door for myself so if I get the opportunity, then it's up to me to leave a good impression."

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