Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland have emerged as front-runners for the starting goalkeeper role for England, with manager Gareth Southgate recently saying that the position is ‘up for grabs’.
Bot have manned the posts for their teams who have undergone disappointing campaigns with Everton foundering mid-table and Stoke City just off the bottom of the Premier League. Incumbent Joe Hart has been simply awful and will likely not even be on the plane to Russia for this summer’s World Cup while Nick Pope at Burnley has also worked himself into contention.
Pickford’s manager at the Toffees Sam Allardyce has talked up the youngster in the lead-up to today’s clash at the bet365 Stadium.
“I think that when you talk about consistency he has been our most consistent player.
“At 23 and coming to as big a club as Everton - and playing to the level he has on a consistent basis - shows that age means nothing for him. He believes in what he is and I think that he grows and gets better from here and certainly benefits from the experience he has had this year by playing every game.
“I don’t think he has missed a game, playing at the highest level and making some critical saves in periods when you have needed to get a result. He has been there for us.”
More than once this season the goalie has shown his authority on the pitch, whether it meant giving veteran Wayne Rooney an earful or starting off a counter with an accurately-placed kick from the back, Pickford has not shirked his responsibility on the pitch and will likely be named the Blues’ player of the season.
“He makes the odd mistake like every keeper does but they have been few and far between.
“I rate his chances very highly in terms of his England career. Whether that is enough to get Gareth Southgate to choose him as his No 1 only time will tell, but certainly in terms of what he has done this year compared to the people he is competing against he has played every single game and played exceptionally well.”
While still young, Pickford has shown a lot of maturity both last season with a Sunderland side headed for the drop and this year with an Everton side that has looked all at sea defensively for long periods of the season. It’ll be interesting to see if that is enough for Southgate to name him the England number one this summer.