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Final warm-up cap for Nick Pope




It just keeps getting better and better for Nick Pope, who last night made his England debut, as the country starts to feel the warmth of a World Cup fever.

The 26-year-old West Suffolk College graduate came on as a second-half substitute for Jack Butland (65') in the 2-0 victory over Costa Rica at Elland Road.

It was the national team's final warm-up game ahead of travelling to Russia for the summer's World Cup and he now goes into the tournament with an international cap under his belt.

It follows an incredible season at Burnley for the goalkeeper, which saw him cement his claim on the Number One jersey with a succession of top league performances as he capitalised on Tom Heaton being sidelined by injury early on.

The former Bury Town and Team Bury player had a solid first game for his country, albeit with little to do in the one sided match.

England dominated and Marcus Rashford's dynamism quickly paid off with the home team going a goal up after just 13 minutes.

Despite the constant pressure, a 1-0 scoreline looked increasingly likely, until fellow second-half substitutes Dele Alli and Danny Welbeck combined for a second – the Arsenal player heading into the net from a cross/shot from Alli after 76 minutes – to kill off any thoughts of a Costa Rican comeback.

The Central American visitors struggled against an unusually forward-pressing England team and the ball was rarely in England's defensive quarter, let alone near the goalkeeper.

Pope made a few good decisions and did not appear to put a foot wrong when called upon but also did not seem to have enough to do (or time to do it) to give Southgate a goalkeeping headache.

It seems likely he will remain as England's number three 'keeper, behind Jordan Pickford and Butland – not dissimilar to how he began this season at Burnley, sat on the bench waiting for his chance.

Maybe it will come.

England play their first match in the pool stages against Tunisia on Monday, June 18 (7pm UK time) in Group G.



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