England goalkeeper Nick Pope is set to be ruled out for up to six months – handing Tom Heaton the chance to reclaim his position as Burnley number one and place in the England squad.
Pope dislocated his shoulder making his first appearance of the new campaign in the club’s Europa League clash with Aberdeen on Thursday night.
The 26-year-old, who was part of the England squad at the World Cup, now faces being sidelined until October at the earliest.
But SunSport understands there are fears surgery could be needed, which would force him out until the beginning of 2019.
Pope only got his big break at Burnley last year when Heaton suffered an identical injury to the same shoulder five games into last season which saw him miss half the campaign.
Now Heaton has the chance to reclaim his position as first choice in Sean Dyche’s side – and also take his place in Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions squad.
Pope lasted just 13 minutes of the 1-1 draw at Pittodrie before he went down in agony following a collision with team-mate James Tarkowski.
He was only playing in the game because Heaton had been struggling with a minor calf strain, but now faces even more misery with the prospect of losing his place as number one at club level and spot in the national squad.
The injury has almost certainly put an end to the prospect of Burnley agreeing to sell Heaton, 32, this summer.
The prospect of having to start the season as back-up to Pope having been on stand-by for Southgate’s World Cup squad had led to the stopper considering a move away in search for regular football.
But now the former Manchester United keeper has suddenly been presented with the opportunity to nail down his spot in the side in the same way Pope took advantage of his misfortune 12 months ago.
The calf injury that ruled him out of the Aberdeen match is not thought to be anything serious.
That leaves Dyche in the lucky position of being able to replace one international keeper with another now that injury has struck.
With Pope sidelined, it also means Heaton is in line for a quick return to the full England squad for England’s first matches after Russia 2018 in September.
The Three Lions take on Spain in their opening Nations League group match on September 8 at Wembley, before they face Switzerland in a friendly at Leicester’s King Power Stadium.
They then play two more Nations League matches the following month – a trip to World Cup semi-final conquerors Croatia before the return match against Spain.
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