GARETH Southgate took up his increasingly regular seat in the Turf Moor directors' box on Saturday lunchtime ready to cast his eye over Burnley's England hopefuls.

It was the second week in succession Southgate had decided to use his Saturday watching Burnley at home, having also watched the 1-1 draw with Southampton, as he considers his options for the next Three Lions squad later this month.

With the 2018 World Cup in Russia racing into view Southgate has just one more squad to name, for friendlies with Holland and Italy later this month, before he tries to come up with a 23-man squad for the tournament this summer.

As the World Cup edges closer Southgate's options are increasing rather than decreasing and it feels like the most open fight for places in a squad at this stage of a major tournament build-up in recent memory.

In the shake-up for places are several Burnley players. The Clarets have been one of the Premier League's success stories this season, bringing up 40 points on Saturday and remaining in seventh place.

Nick Pope's performances in goal have thrust him into the goalkeeping debate for the Three Lions, while the returning Tom Heaton still has his eyes fixed firmly on Russia.

At the back Ben Mee and James Tarkowski have been linked with call-ups this March, while Matt Lowton might have played himself into contention with a fine display against Everton on Saturday and Jack Cork will hope to retain his place, having won his first cap against Germany in November.

Clarets boss Sean Dyche is delighted to see his England contenders in the frame for international honours and to see the national manager a regular attendee at Burnley games.

He also revealed he had spoken to Southgate when the Three Lions boss had asked for his opinion on how his charges were getting on.

“We have a good collection here of course, but for him to come here yet again is another tick box in the story of Burnley," Dyche said.

“We have the England manager coming here quite regularly to see what’s going on and remind himself of the players we’ve got.

“Fantastic in that sense as well.

“Gareth, from time to time, will ask me about players, and the form they’re in, but I know how difficult it is to be a manager, so I certainly don’t force anyone on him, I give him a true opinion as I see it about these players and how I see it.