Pope will make his first ever top-flight start as Heaton, who has only missed three league games over the previous four seasons, faces months out with an injury sustained in last weekend’s win over Crystal Palace.
The England international is expected to be out for four months after undergoing shoulder surgery and boss Sean Dyche admits it will be tough for his skipper at times but feels Heaton has the right mentality to handle the situation.
He said: “It can be tough. I went through it with my back, the longer ones are the tougher ones to take because you can never see the end and it’s a long journey, but like most of our lives when you look back you think it went quite quickly.”
Dyche is hoping Jeff Hendrick (thigh) can make his comeback after he trained fully on Thursday but Dean Marney (knee) remains a long-term absentee.
Marney has been out since January after damaging his cruciate knee ligament but Dyche says he is now approaching the end of his recovery period.
“He’s going really well. He’s starting the end bit of going back to full fitness, and that can take time,” Dyche added.
Provisional squad: Pope, Legzdins, Lowton, Long, Mee, Taylor, Ward, Tarkowski, Bardsley, Defour, Brady, Ulvestad, Hendrick, Walters, Cork, Westwood, Arfield, Gudmundsson, Vokes, Agyei, Barnes, Wood, Wells.
Paul Huntington says Preston's play-off hopes this season hinge on them getting the balance right on and off the pitch.