Looking ahead to the European Championships this summer, is Everton’s Jordan Pickford still England’s best candidate in between the sticks?
The Blue’s stopper has enjoyed a mixed bag of success since his heroics in the 2018 World Cup. Pickford’s performance in Everton’s 3-1 win against Crystal Palace displayed both the positive and negative parts of the keeper’s game.
Whilst Pickford denied Christian Benteke late on with a stunning save from close range, his blunder earlier in the game saw the aforementioned Belgian forward net the Eagle’s equaliser.
Although his error may not have cost the Toffees three points, it has been a very different story on more than one occasion.
The mistake that sticks in the mind of many is the former Sunderland player’s mistake in the last minute of the Merseyside derby on December 2nd 2018. With the score level in the 96th minute, Van Dijk sent a volley upward that looked destined to loop over the crossbar. Pickford misjudged the flight of the ball and fumbled allowing Divock Origi to nod home.
The England international’s dismal display against Newcastle the following March saw Pickford become wrapped up in the emotion of playing against his boyhood rivals. After conceding and saving a penalty, he conceded three times including parrying a shot from Miguel Almiron into the path of the oncoming Ayoze Perez.
Despite his faults, it would be unfair to call the Toffee’s goalkeeper poor. Gareth Southgate has kept faith in the 25 year old, and there are plenty of good reasons for this.
With the ball at his feet there, Pickford is one of the best keepers in the league. The ability to play out from the back is vital to Southgate’s style of play, and having one of the top ball-playing keepers in the league is a huge bonus to the national team.
(ABOVE: Pickford’s penalty kick heroics in the 2018 World Cup)
Going into a major tournament, the Three Lions boss would be justified in making use of Pickford’s experience. When compared to his contenders (which we will talk about later), no one comes close. With 24 appearances and standout performances in both the 2018 World Cup run and the UEFA Nations League, Southgate will trust in Pickford taking a leading role as one of the squads more senior players.
The Everton man is also capable of sublime saves. Pickford’s shot stopping was on full display throughout the 2018 World Cup, with standout performances against Columbia and Sweden giving him hero status back home.
So if not Pickford, then who?
(ABOVE: Henderson has been crucial in Sheffield United’s charge up the table this season)
If the squad is being picked on current form, I think it would be very difficult to look past Dean Henderson. The Man United loanee has really proved himself this season, playing a vital role in a Sheffield United side that have conceded the second fewest goals behind Liverpool this season. The 21 year old is a brilliant shot stopper and oozes confidence, with him stating recently that he has his “eyes on the (England number one) shirt”.
(ABOVE: Nick Pope is already a regular part of Southgate’s squad)
Another option would be Burnley’s Nick Pope. A reliable keeper for Sean Dyche’s side, Pope has been in and around the England squad for the past couple of years and has arguably put in more impressive performances than Pickford this season. Could it finally be time for the Burnley man to stamp is mark on the England first team?
(ABOVE: Ramsdale in action for Bournemouth against Tottenham earlier this season)
There is also an outside shout for Bournemouth’s Aaron Ramsdale. The 21 year old has enjoyed a breakthrough season at the Vitality this season. Whilst the Cherries have struggled to keep consistency this season, Ramsdale has become a reliable asset for Eddie Howe as they fight to stay up. Whilst he may be behind the likes of Pope and Henderson in the fight for Pickford’s place, a few strong performances towards the end of the season could give Southgate something to think about.
So should Jordan Pickford retain his place as England’s number one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter.