Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Is it time for a new England number one?

England and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has had the honour of being the man between the sticks for Gareth Southgate since before the 2018 World Cup, but of late, he’s struggled a little.

With constant criticism over the length of his arms as well as his height, it’s proven to be something of an issue as he continues to make poor mistakes. Last night, two days after Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope put in a man of the match performance against Leicester, Pickford’s frailties came to the fore once more.

Mistakes for England

Yesterday evening, Everton were cruising to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle at Goodison Park – they hadn’t been tested all game, Pickford had very little to do and it looked a done deal. Into the fourth minute of four added on, Newcastle won a corner as they searched for a miracle.

Matt Ritchie swings in an in-swinging corner and the Mackem lad came off his line to attempt to punch it clear. Pickford couldn’t quite reach it and simply helped the ball on its way to Fabian Schar at the back post who’s effort rebounded to Florian Lejeune – 2-1.

It seemed like a consolation as the clock ticked down, but from kick off, Newcastle won a free-kick on halfway and pumped it into the box. After a goalmouth scramble, Pickford was left floundering around inside the goal, and actually ended up making a good save – unfortunately he was a yard behind the line when he made it. 2-2, two points dropped.

It’s not the first mistake he’s made in a game where Newcastle have staged a comeback against his side. Last season, as the Magpies staged another late late show at St James’ Park as they stole all three points – in that one, Pickford made another glaring error for the second goal, parrying the ball straight to Ayoze Perez to stab it home.

Add to that the infamous incident against Liverpool wherein Pickford’s “small arms” stopped him from being able to tip a looping ball over the bar, allowing Divock Origi to pounce and win the game for Liverpool in added on time – he has a history of making BIG mistakes.

Time for a new England number 1

With all those mistakes, and many more beyond it, as well as the clear disadvantage he has from his height, there are growing calls from fans across the country for him to be replaced as the England number one. The European Championships are fast approaching, and the first thing we need to do before then is decide on a clear, number one for the tournament.

Competition for the jersey

In fairness to Pickford, he’s been pretty good whenever he’s played for England. In the aforementioned World Cup, he made a host of outstanding saves and played a huge part in a moment of history as Southgate’s side knocked out Colombia on penalties.

However, with the likes of Nick Pope, Dean Henderson, Ben Foster, Tom Heaton and Alex McCarthy all playing regular, top flight football – it’s becoming harder and harder for Pickford to keep his grip on that number one jersey. As well those guys, he also has to worry about Jack Butland – who hasn’t been forgotten about while in the Championship.

If I were Southgate, I’d be seriously considering letting Nick Pope and Dean Henderson have an opportunity to stake their claim for the position in the upcoming internationals. Henderson himself has made one or two errors this season, so I probably wouldn’t start him at the Euros, but I’d definitely take him.

One name not to let go under the radar is the aforementioned Ben Foster. Currently playing at Watford, Foster has put in a number of outstanding performances this season and would be a good option for some experience in the England squad – which is usually always a good idea.

I do believe Pickford will end up as the number one in the summer, but with the form of Pope lately and the impressive Henderson breathing down his neck, he’s going to have to be very consistent for the rest of the season.

Either way, Southgate is to be left with a very tough decision when selecting his three ‘keeper this summer. Pickford will be there, Pope and Henderson both have a great claim to be there, one of Heaton and Foster should be there for experience – it’s a real headache.

Who would you choose to take to the European Championships if you were in Southgate’s position? Leave a comment and let us know.

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