NICK Pope has grasped the chance handed to him by Tom Heaton's injury, but the former non-league star believes he was developing as a 'keeper through his work on the training ground with the Clarets.

The 25-year-old took the brave step of swapping first-team football with Charlton for a place in the rank and file at Turf Moor when he made the move in the summer of 2016 after 33 Championship appearances with the Addicks.

Pope knew he wouldn't be coming to Burnley as number one, with club captain Tom Heaton established in that position, but he felt he could improve by working with the goalkeeping set-up at the Barnfield Training Centre.

That decision has been vindicated since Pope replaced Heaton, with a string of fine performances highlighting the improvements he has made to his game.

"I think obviously when I signed from Charlton I wasn’t going to come in as number one and I knew that," the former Ipswich Town youngster said.

"The options on the table were Burnley in the Premier League or Charlton in League One. At that point I could have stayed at Charlton and played, probably.

"But I thought that for me to grow as a player I would be better off coming to Burnley under this management set-up and this goalkeeping coach (Billy Mercer) and these players. I thought training here every day would make me better and give me the chance to play at the highest level I could.

"So that was my thought process then and coming into this season I started on the bench and if I got the chance I knew I would do my best to take it. And if not I’d work hard to be better than I was to keep pushing and pushing Tom as best I could."

Pope has been so impressive for Burnley since coming into the team - Saturday's mistake at Leicester City aside - that when Heaton returns he could face a challenge for his place.

That scenario remains a little way off but Pope admits he would much rather be in the team than back to sitting on the bench.

"I think obviously you are always going to enjoy playing more than sitting on the bench. I wouldn’t say sitting on the bench is ever easy, no matter when it is… so we’ll see," he said.

Pope's six Premier League clean sheets so far have helped the Clarets to seventh place in the top flight after 15 games.

But while that position is deserved Pope insists it's merely a foundation for the campaign and one that Burnley have to build-on in the winter months.

"Are we in a realistic position? We are three points clear of eighth so it’s no fluke so far," he said.

"We have started the season really well and build the foundation for our season and I think where we are is just a good start, that’s all it is. We’ve not had a good season yet.

"We’ve had a good season so far but that doesn’t give us any right to win any games or get any points in the future so we start on a level playing field every week and that’s the attitude we have got to have and do have."