GARETH Southgate believes “nobody is challenging seriously” to take over from England No.1 Jordan Pickford.

It comes as Burnley 'keeper Nick Pope is again called up by his country for Nations League matches against Belgium and Iceland and next Thursday’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland.

But despite Pickford being ‘rested’ by Everton last weekend after 120 successive starts, Pope’s own early-season form means Southgate is in no doubt about who currently leads the way in his goalkeeping department.

“That’s not been a difficult decision for me,” said the England boss.

“We have some competition for places, but I’d have to say there’s nobody I think is challenging seriously at the moment to push him out of that position.”

But Pope’s club boss Sean Dyche believes that, despite a couple of rare off days this season, Pope is progressing.

“A couple of ups and downs by his standards,” he said when asked about his keeper’s form this season. “Equally I think he continues to mature. His starting position is getting better and better.

“His aggressive nature in coming to collect and deal with crosses improves all the time. There have been a couple of moments when things have got away from him, but to be fair him, we have not always performed in front of him and that’s important as well.

“As regards the England thing, Gareth seems to be very strong in his own mind about making his own decision regardless of form, good and bad, at their clubs. He’s got his own views on that and who he decides to play.

“It’s not my decision. I just think he’s developing into a very, very good keeper. I always thought he was a good keeper, but there are other parts of his game which are continuing to develop.”