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FALL FROM GRACE

Should Jordan Pickford still be England’s first-choice goalkeeper?

The shot-stopper was one of the heroes of England's World Cup campaign, but has endured an error-strewn season for Everton

We all fell in love with Jordan Pickford last summer.

The Everton goalkeeper was one of the stars of England’s World Cup campaign after all, becoming a household name thanks to his heroics in the penalty shootout win over Colombia.

But following a difficult few months with his club, a dramatic fall from grace might see him left out of the Three Lions’ upcoming games against the Czech Republic and Montenegro.

Crunch time

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Crunch time

Pickford’s season has been dominated by mistakes. 

His terrible error in the dying moments of the Merseyside derby back in December will live long in the memory for some time, while his floundering performance against Spurs in their 6-2 win at Goodison Park was a far-cry from the Pickford we saw in Russia.

His run-out against Newcastle on Saturday will do little to convince Gareth Southgate either, as his nightmarish afternoon saw his side throw away a 2-0 lead at St. James’ Park to lose 3-2.

Spilled

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Spilled

The match really was an emotional roller-coaster for the former Sunderland graduate.

He produced brilliant saves to deny chances for Ayoze Perez and Paul Dummett, but also conceded a horrible penalty after rugby tackling Salomon Rondon to the ground.

And while he avoided a red card for the challenge and even saved the resulting spot-kick, he made a fool of himself by laughing at the Newcastle fans halfway through the second-half and finished up by parrying a shot from Miguel Almiron towards Perez to equalise.

During BT Sport’s coverage of the game, Tim Sherwood heavily criticised his brash approach to goalkeeping and said it’s time he was dropped from the national team.

He said: “I’d take him out of the team, he makes too many risks and he’s no where near an England goalkeeper.”

Pickford has been ever-present for England since before the World Cup

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Pickford has been ever-present for England since before the World Cup

But that begs the question; who should be England’s goalkeeper?

While the Three Lions are hardly awash with world class goalkeeping talent right now, the obvious answer is Burnley’s Tom Heaton.

The Clarets’ captain, who turns 33 next month, has only won three caps for the national team since his first call-up in 2016, and only made the standby list for the World Cup over the summer after missing most of the season with a shoulder injury.

He then spent the first 19 Premier League games of this term on the bench while summer signing Joe Hart started, but Heaton promptly replaced him following the 5-1 loss to Everton on Boxing Day.

He’s been first-choice ever since, playing in all 10 league matches since then and helping Sean Dyche’s side go unbeaten for a stretch of eight games.

Pole position

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Pole position

Ben Foster also deserves a special mention, as he’s been terrific for Watford this season.

The 35-year-old almost retired from playing after West Brom’s relegation last year, but has arguably been one of the most assured keepers in the league this term.

An England recall looks extremely unlikely though, as he’s clearly not interested in the burden of international football.

In a recent interview with the Mail Online, he said: “I am too old and Gareth is going with young ones and that’s right.

“And international weeks are where I need the break. I don’t like training, don’t want to be out there. It just bores me, to be honest, and it hurts as well.”

Fair enough, Ben.

One last throw of the dice?

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One last throw of the dice?

Southgate will name his next England squad on Wednesday, and while we don’t expect Pickford to be completely dropped from the team altogether – there’s little to suggest that his current form is enough to nail down that No.1 jersey.

This could prove to be a challenging period for both Southgate and his goalkeeping options.

What would you do?


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