Jeepers keepers! Jordan Pickford’s three back-ups for Euro 2020 have just ONE cap between them… the options are thin with Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone not ready to step in and Aaron Ramsdale set to be cut from bloated squad
- Stopper Jordan Pickford is likely to keep his England starting spot for Euro 2020
- But the lack of credible alternatives for this summer may hurt the Three Lions
- Dean Henderson, Sam Johnstone and Aaron Ramsdale are Pickford’s back-ups
- All three goalkeepers have just one cap on the international stage between them
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here.
Gareth Southgate’s England team have improved in many ways since they surprised everybody by reaching the last four of the 2018 World Cup. But in one position, they have not improved.
Jordan Pickford is arguably not a better goalkeeper than he was three years ago. There have been times this season when his position at Everton appeared to be under threat.
But with England his place is more secure than that of just about anybody else – apart, perhaps, from captain Harry Kane – although that says little about him and a lot about the lack of credible alternatives for this summer’s European Championship.
Jordan Pickford is arguably not a better player than he was three years ago ahead of Euro 2020
As Southgate hinted on Tuesday English goalkeeping finds itself in a strange place. It is a little bit stuck between the passing of one generation and the maturation of the next.
That is nobody’s fault but that is the reality and with that in mind the recent injury to Burnley’s Nick Pope feels like a significant blow.
Not that Pope would have started against Croatia at Wembley on June 13. Pickford has just about held it together long enough to be selected.
Nick Pope may not have started against Croatia on June 13 but his injury is a significant blow
But Pope would have provided a comfort blanket of sorts in that position. The three goalkeepers selected alongside Pickford have just a single cap between them, meaning that if anything were to happen to England’s No1 things would start to feel very thin indeed.
Southgate has been unfortunate in this position. Blessed further up his team by the emergence of talented, well-coached ball players, in goal he has watched the likes of Jack Butland and Tom Heaton take steps backwards.
Elsewhere, Ben Foster does not wish to play and Joe Hart’s slide from the top of the mountain to the foothills has been extra-ordinary. Hart is still only 34.
So Southgate must hope for good form from Pickford this summer and also some good fortune. Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone are both extremely talented goalkeepers but just do not look ready.
Dean Henderson is an extremely talented goalkeeper but just does not look ready to step in
Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale, meanwhile, will be cut from this bloated group once Southgate declares his hand of 26 next Tuesday.
Talking the issue through, Southgate said he believed Pickford had shown good late-season form at Everton. With regards to the others, he was candid.
‘It doesn’t make me nervous because they’re the best we have and they’re the best available,’ he said. ‘We’re very unfortunate with the situation with Pope. He’s the one that we’ve given those more recent caps to.
‘We’ve known for a little while that the goalkeeping situation internationally for us is unusually inexperienced.
‘The more experienced ones have found themselves out of their club teams and even those guys are limited caps. You’ve got to go back to Joe Hart and perhaps Fraser Forster.
Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale will soon be cut from Gareth Southgate’s bloated squad
‘So we’ve got to go with the next generation and give them the experiences. We know Jordan’s got great experience with us and we’ve got to prepare the others as best we can.’
Pickford is a strange mix of instinctive brilliance and terrifying unpredictability. He possibly cares a little too much about what people think of him, which is endearing and vaguely dangerous at the same time.
Now 27 and coming close to what should be his peak years, Pickford hears every single word of criticism or analysis and that is not always a great habit before and during a big tournament.
‘I’m not concerned about Pickford,’ said Southgate. ‘I think he has finished the season really well. I know the team had a difficult afternoon at Manchester City on Sunday but he has shown a real calmness which I’ve liked.
Southgate has been unfortunate with some choices between the sticks taking backward steps
‘His performances have been very focused, his goalkeeping has been good.’
Southgate appeared to be choosing his words carefully and deliberately there. Pickford’s natural ability has rarely been questioned. He can make brilliant saves.
It has been his tendency to become too emotional and make rash decisions that has threatened to hold him back.
Pickford’s natural ability has rarely been questioned but his rash decisions may hold him back
He has 30 England caps, which represents rapid progress given that he only made his debut seven months or so before the last World Cup.
He more than played his part in Russia, not least with that penalty shootout save against Colombia. Some saw him as the future while others were more circumspect.
The responsibility this summer will be significant.
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