Gareth Southgate insists ‘nobody’ is close to dislodging Jordan Pickford as England’s number one despite criticism over the goalkeeper’s form at Everton.
Pickford’s position has been questioned following an inconsistent period for Everton in recent months, with the 26-year-old having been criticised for his form as well as an ugly challenge on Virgil van Dijk that left the defender requiring knee surgery following last month’s Merseyside Derby.
The goalkeeper was left on the bench for Everton’s defeat at Newcastle last weekend with summer signing Robin Olsen preferred in goal, though Southgate has come out in defence of the player and insists he remains first-choice at international level.
Nick Pope and Dean Henderson would be the leading contenders to replace Pickford, though neither player has made a convincing case with Pope part of a Burnley team without a win so far this season and Henderson playing a back-up role to David de Gea at Manchester United.
“We have some competition for places, but I would have to say that there is nobody who I think is challenging seriously at the moment to push him out of that position,” Southgate said, as per the Telegraph.
Southgate also revealed that he phoned Pickford in the wake of the fallout from his challenge on Van Dijk, with Merseyside Police having investigated abusive and offensive tweets aimed at the goalkeeper.
“I was just checking in,” Southgate said of telephoning Pickford.
“I recognised that it had been a very high-profile situation and there had been a lot of collateral fallout in a very public way, so I just felt it would be an appropriate call to make to see how he was and if I could help him in any way, really.”