This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking to The Mirror, former England shot-stopper David James has stated that Jordan Pickford is still England’s “best” option as the country’s number one.
England’s goalkeeping position is often of much debate, with the options for Gareth Southgate far from slim. For the Euro 2020 qualifiers this time, the Three Lions boss called up Pickford, Nick Pope and Tom Heaton, although the latter was replaced by impressive youngster Dean Henderson due to injury.
Heaton is the eldest at 33, but the other aforementioned names are all under 28 and may have their best years yet to come. Right now, each of them have an argument for the number one jersey, but James believes it is Pickford’s still.
The Englishman said: “I’m a fan of Jordan. Looking at the Premier League clubs now I think there’s quite a few young English goalkeepers coming through but I still think he is the best about at the moment.
“Having had such a meteoric rise to the England position and shoring up that no.1 spot, there’s going to be a lull at some point. But he’s decent and he’s a good lad. When I’ve spoken to him he’s very focused, which is obviously very important.
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“He’s well renowned for his distribution,” James added. “I always question whether his ability could be used better. His accuracy is up there with the best and I think that’s sort of been used more with England in tournaments.”
Since signing for Everton for £3om, Pickford has established himself as one of the countries best, keeping 29 clean sheets in 96 appearances, earning him the place as England’s number one. However, the former Sunderland man has let in a slightly alarming 135 goals as well.
Within that time, Pope has burst onto the Premier League scene, keeping 21 clean sheets but in 43 games less than Pickford.
As James alluded to, the Everton keeper has spectacular distribution, which was evident in his two exceptional passes to Harry Kane against Spain, which led to the England captain beautifully assisting two England goals. However, Pope’s excellent form for Burnley over the years has been massively overlooked and just this season alone has conceded nine goals to Pickford’s 13.
Subsequently, the former Charlton keeper deserves a chance to be the Three Lions’ number one. Pope may indeed be heading into his peak over the next few years, and Southgate should, therefore, consider bleeding him in as England’s main man between the sticks now.