Burnley pair handed England call for friendlies
England manager Gareth Southgate has called up Burnley pair Nick Pope and James Tarkowski for the friendlies against Italy and the Netherlands.
It completes a remarkable rise for two players who were not even in Sean Dyche's first team a year ago.
Tarkowski, who was rejected by Blackburn Rovers as a young player, began his professional career with Oldham Athletic and was signed by Burnley from Brentford in February 2016.
The form of central defenders Michael Keane and Ben Mee kept him out of the side until Keane, who had also become part of the England set-up, was sold to Everton in July.
But he has been a regular this season in a defence that has conceded just 26 goals.
Pope spent plenty of time on loan at non-league and lower-league clubs whilst with Charlton Athletic before Burnley signed him in 2016 as back-up to Tom Heaton.
The 25-yeaer-old Pope's chance came when Heaton, then part of the England squad himself, dislocated a shoulder during September's game with Crystal Palace and he has been in outstanding form since as the Clarets have risen to an unexpected seventh in the Premier League.
"Probably for me and Nick, five or six years ago when you’re down in League One, you probably don’t expect to get to this level of the game,” Tarkowski told the club's Clarets Player online television.
"You always dream of it but it always seems quite far away. It’s probably only really this season for both of us, when we’ve got into the team in the Premier League and done quite well as a club."
Pope said he hadn't been expecting a call-up.
“It’s something you don’t really think about, it puts pressure on and it’s pretty unrealistic. It’s something that’s not even been in my mind, to be honest, you just concentrate on playing for Burnley and helping the lads put points on the board," he told the Burnley Express.
As well as Heaton, Burnley midfielder Jack Cork has also featured for England recently, featuring against Germany in a November friendly, but he was not included in Southgate's squad for this month's games against the Netherlands and Italy.Published: by Radio NewsHub