England and Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope hoping 2019/20 Premier League season can finish at some stage
Burnley’s Wicken-raised goalkeeper Nick Pope is hopeful that a resolution can be found to ensure that the 2019/20 Premier League season is concluded.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused widespread uncertainty across the sporting world, with England’s top flight not returning until at least the beginning of May – a date that is currently viewed as being highly optimistic.
In a statement last week, the Premier League expressed a ‘commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019/20 football season’ alongside agreeing to ‘extend indefinitely’ the previous deadline of June 1 for the campaign to finish.
For Pope, who has not trained with his Burnley team-mates since March 18, he is currently out of the usual routine of training and match days.
But despite all of the unknown, the former King’s Ely School pupil is keen for things to play out rather than going down the null and void route.
“That (finishing the season) would be the best for everyone and I think that is what we are all hoping for,” said the 27-year-old.
“The season was originally due to end in the middle of May, but obviously that looks like it needs to be extended.
“Because of contracts it seems that the games will need to be played before the end of June, so hopefully we can find a way.
“We have got so far through the season, it would be a real shame to have to null and void it.
“There looks to be a lot of guessing going on at the moment and nobody knows what is going on. Obviously health is all-important and that comes first, but hopefully some answers will come during the coming weeks.”
To give leagues across the continent the best opportunity to finish, UEFA have taken the decision to postpone Euro 2020 by 12 months.
Two-capped Pope, who went to the World Cup in 2018, looked a sure bet to be one of three England goalkeepers selected by head coach Gareth Southgate for this summer’s tournament.
Pope remains a leading contender to retain his place next summer, although he is taking nothing for granted.
“I never get ahead of myself but it felt like I had a very good chance of getting in the squad,” he added.
“You do not know where things are going to be in 12 or 15 months’ time. It is going to fall in favour for some people and go against others.
“Players that are in form right now might not be come next summer, they might also be injured.
“On the flip side, we had a couple of lads (Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford) carrying injuries, so that gives them a chance to get back fully fit.
“It is the same for every nation and now it is a clean slate in terms of getting into the squad.
“The true ramifications will only really be known for players next summer.”
One of the main reasons Pope is so high up the Three Lions pecking order are his performances for Burnley before the coronavirus called a halt to proceedings.
No goalkeeper has kept more Premier League clean sheets this than Pope, whose return of 11 is one more than Dean Henderson (Sheffield United), Alisson (Liverpool) and Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City).
“It has been a good season for me, and right now I am one ahead in the Golden Glove, which is great,” said Pope.
“We had a bit of a sticky period earlier in the season when we were in among the teams fighting against relegation, but since the first week of January things have turned around.
“The lads have been great, we have been on an upward trajectory, and we have earned the freedom to express ourselves during the last nine or 10 games. We have no worries now and hopefully we can finish in the top half (currently 10th).”