Southgate defends under-fire Pickford after latest criticisms of Everton and England 'keeper

Gareth Southgate has defended the under-fire Jordan Pickford following the latest criticisms of the Everton and England goalkeeper.

Pickford has struggled for form so far this season and has made a series of high-profile mistakes, making an error leading to a Christian Benteke’s goal against Crystal Palace earlier this month, before again being at fault for Bruno Fernandes’ strike during Everton‘s 1-1 draw with Manchester United last weekend.

No goalkeeper in the Premier League has made more errors leading to goals (7) since the start of last season than Pickford, and there have been calls for the 25-year-old to be dropped by England ahead of this summer’s European Championships.

Sky Sports’ pundit Roy Keane was scathing in his assessment of the goalkeeper’s abilities last weekend, insisting the former Sunderland star is ‘not a good goalkeeper’ and ‘not up to it’ following his latest poor performance.

Despite the increased criticism, however, England manager Southgate has backed Pickford to bounce back and insists he retains full faith in the abilities of his first-choice shot-stopper.

“I think the reality is, as a goalkeeper mistakes will happen and people will shine a light on them,” Southgate said at the UEFA Nations League draw.

“That is the reality of the position. He’s been a key part of our success over three years. It’s good he has competition to achieve a high level.

“He manages to brush those things off, it’s key for any player, the ability to brush things off kind of determine your career.

“Obviously we gave Nick Pope a game in November, its an area where more experienced back-ups have injuries or dropped out of the frame.”

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