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Newcastle's Nick Pope closing in on Edwin van der Sar's astonishing record

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Newcastle's Nick Pope closing in on Edwin van der Sar's astonishing record

When Southampton scored an 89th-minute consolation goal against Newcastle at St Mary’s on November 6, Nick Pope could not hide his disappointment. The Saints were in no danger of getting back into the game, but his clean sheet was gone.

Newcastle kept six clean sheets at that point. That number now stands at 16, and Pope has failed to score a goal in his last 10 appearances in all competitions.

Following that win at Southampton, Newcastle edged past Crystal Palace on penalties in the Carabao Cup, and then signed off for the World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Chelsea.

Nick Pope kept a clean sheet against Southampton on Tuesday and has now not conceded a goal in any of his last 10 appearances in all competitions

Nick Pope kept a clean sheet against Southampton on Tuesday and has now not conceded a goal in any of his last 10 appearances in all competitions

Since the resumption of domestic football, they have picked up where they left off, cementing their place in the top four and moving within a game of the Carabao Cup final after winning the first leg of their semi-final against Southampton 1-0 on Tuesday .

It seemed fitting that Pope produced one of his best performances of the campaign on the ground that he was the last to score a goal.

In November, a brief lapse in defensive concentration allowed Southampton to pull one back, but Pope has no intention of leaving the south coast without a clean sheet this time around.

Newcastle controlled the contest, but Southampton had a 15-minute spell in the second half where they piled on the pressure in search of the opening goal. Pope stood firm.

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When Che Adams ran into the goal, he stayed big and made the save with his outstretched foot. Nathan Jones’ men looked dangerous from James Ward-Prowse’s set-pieces, but Pope was there when needed, getting down to make saves, and coming to pick up high balls to give his teammates a breather to the team. It was a truly commanding display, and one that midfielder Bruno Guimaraes will be keen to praise at full-time.

Pope continues to lead for Newcastle, keeping them in the hunt for a top-four finish

Pope continues to lead for Newcastle, keeping them in the hunt for a top-four finish

‘I’d like to thank Nick Pope – he’s been brilliant for us. He’s the best goalkeeper in the world,’ Guimaraes told Sky Sports as Pope picked up the man of the match award.

Pope’s form in recent months has been even more impressive following the setback he suffered on international duty with England in September.

With Jordan Pickford injured, Pope was handed the gloves for England’s Nations League matches against Italy and Germany.

The final fixture will surely bring back painful memories for the 30-year-old who dropped the ball when making a routine save from Serge Gnabry in the closing stages, allowing Kai Havertz to head home to save a points for Germany.

That mistake effectively ended his chances of displacing Pickford as England’s No 1 for the World Cup, and will haunt a number of goalkeepers, but Pope has returned to club football stronger than ever.

Pope made a disappointing mistake for England in September, but it responded well

Pope made a disappointing mistake for England in September, but it responded well

The £12m summer signing from Burnley proved to be worth every penny.

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Against Southampton, he was called into action on numerous occasions and stood up to the test each time, but there were other matches where he was barely needed.

Newcastle’s recent away games with Arsenal and Palace have shown the Magpies to defend well, limiting their opponents to just one big chance. Here Pope showed his worth, staying open to deny Arsenal’s Eddie Nketiah with a sharp stop down his left, and then reaching the top corner to keep out Jean Philippe-Mateta’s ferocious drive at Selhurst Park.

Papa has shown remarkable consistency over a long period of time, and he is on the verge of history.

In the 2008–09 season, Edwin van der Sar kept 12 consecutive clean sheets in all competitions for Manchester United. Pope is just two matches away from drawing level with the great Dutchman.

Van Der Sar’s record looks unlikely to be beaten, and has stood for 14 years, but now Pope has a real chance to surpass it.

Newcastle’s next match sees them play Southampton again as they look to book their place in the Carabao Cup final.

Pope is just two games away from matching Edwin van der Sar's record number of clean sheets

Pope is just two games away from matching Edwin van der Sar’s record number of clean sheets

They then host a struggling West Ham side on their next league outing, before traveling to 18th-placed Bournemouth next week. If Pope does not eliminate these three opponents, he will overtake Van Der Sar and set his own record.

Hopes were high for Newcastle heading into the season after the club spent big in the summer, but they have exceeded all expectations, and have Champions League qualification in their own hands.

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Pope led their charge for a top-four finish, and more than played his part in their cup run.

Van Der Sar’s record-breaking run led to United picking up silverware as they secured their 11th Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson.

With Pope between the sticks, and proving almost impossible to beat at the moment, Newcastle fans have every reason to believe that a trophy could be on its way to St James’ Park very soon.