BURNLEY'S latest England squad members James Tarkowski and Nick Pope admitted a Three Lions call-up had always felt a distant dream - until this season.

The duo have been two of the shining lights in a stunning campaign for the Clarets and they've been rewarded for their fine form with a place in Gareth Southgate's squad for friendlies with Holland and Italy later this month.

That takes the number of Burnley players graduating to the England ranks under Sean Dyche to five, following on from Tom Heaton, Michael Keane and Jack Cork, but the latest two have risen through the leagues to earn the highest honours.

Both were playing in the Championship in 2015/16 before the Clarets signed Tarkowski from Brentford midway through the campaign and Pope from Charlton in that summer, but they've had to wait until this season before becoming regulars in the team, with Tarkowski replacing the departed Keane and Pope benefitting from Heaton's shoulder injury.

Tarkowski said representing England was always a dream, but one that had seemed unlikely until recently.

"It's a bit unexpected. You always dream of it but it always seems quite far away, it’s probably only this season that we’ve got into the team in the Premier League and we’ve done quite well, as a club the league position speaks for itself," the 25-year-old said.

"The England manager was bound to be watching a few of the lads and fortunately for me and Popey we’ve got that chance to show what we can do.

"For me and Nick five or six years ago when you’re down in League One you probably don’t expect to get to his level. To get this call-up is a very pleasing moment for me and my family."

Pope, also 25, added: "It’s something you don’t really think about, it puts unwanted pressure on and it's probably unrealistic. It’s something that’s not even been in my mind, I’ve been concentrating on playing for Burnley and putting points on the board."

Pope hadn't played a minute in the Premier League until September and has made only 33 Championship appearances, having been plying his trade in loan spells in non-league football and League Two just three years ago.

“It seems a long way away now, at those times you don’t think things like this are even possible, they’re so far from your mind," the former Charlton Athletic stopper said.

“To get to this point now is a massive achievement for myself and something I’m really proud of.

“It’s the top of the game, the pinnacle of where you can get to. To be called up for your country is a massive honour."

The first international call-ups for Pope and Tarkowski have been well-timed, with Southgate running the rule over his options before naming his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia this summer.

After the friendlies with Holland on March 23 and Italy on March 27, England face Nigeria and Costa Rica in June before flying out for the tournament.

“It’s an opportunity to show what you’re all about as a player and a person," Tarkowski said.

"Hopefully we can put a little stamp on the England team and then you go from there, if you perform well, show what you can do, there’s another opportunity in the summer to hopefully show that again."

Pope has thrived with the gloves for Burnley since Heaton's dislocated shoulder against Crystal Palace on September 10 and he has now followed the club captain into the England squad.

Heaton is close to a first-team return and will be pressuring Pope for his place over the final eight games of the campaign, but the man in possession at the moment praised the goalkeeping unit as a whole, with Anders Lindegaard and Adam Legzdins also battling for places, and the work done by goalkeeping coach Billy Mercer.

“We've got a great bond and a great goalkeeping union at the club with the four of us, and Billy leading us and taking us day in and day out and making us push each other," Pope said.

“It shows the quality we’ve got at the club, it’s great for the goalkeeping department, it shows how far you can go with hard work and pushing each other."