Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s “erratic” club form has given England boss Gareth Southgate a “dilemma”, says former Blackburn striker Chris Sutton.
Pickford, 25, played in all of England’s matches at the 2018 World Cup and was also Southgate’s number one during the Euro 2020 qualifying games.
But he has made club errors and was at fault for a goal by Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke on Saturday.
“Pickford has not played well enough,” said Sutton on BBC Radio 5 Live.
In England’s last two Euro 2020 qualifiers, Pickford started against Montenegro, but, with qualification then secured, Burnley’s Nick Pope played against Kosovo.
Aston Villa’s Tom Heaton was also in the squad. Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson, on loan from Manchester United, has not won a senior England cap, but has represented the Under-21s.
This season, both Henderson and Pope have kept nine Premier League clean sheets, the joint highest number from any one goalkeeper – along with Liverpool’s Alisson.
“Henderson, Pope and [Ben] Foster have all been better than Pickford,” added Sutton. “If you want to win the Euros, you play the most confident goalkeeper, the best goalkeeper,
“Pickford played well at the World Cup but, in the here and now, if you compare him to other goalkeepers, the truth is he hasn’t been as good as Henderson or Pope.
“He’s so good with his feet but if he’s fragile or not showing the confidence that Henderson’s done then surely you pick the goalkeeper in form, the one who’s made the most saves and been the most consistent.
“Pickford’s club form has been really erratic and Gareth has a dilemma.”
Ex-England striker Ian Wright, speaking alongside Sutton on the Monday Night Club, said: “Pickford is England’s number one but I don’t know for how much longer he will be, if I’m honest.”
‘He seems angry and thinks people are having a go at him’
On Saturday, during Everton’s 3-1 win over Palace, Pickford let a weak Benteke shot in under his body, although he did make a save later to keep out the Belgian’s close-range header.
After that game, Pickford, who has played 24 times for England, said criticism does not affect him, adding “everyone hates you” when you are an England player.
“The press and everybody, the punters – look at [Sky Sports pundit and ex-England defender] Gary Neville – they just want to come for England players,” said Pickford.
“You have to live with it. I know what I’m capable of and I know what I’m good at.”
The Monday Night Club pundits thought Pickford had been wrong to react this way.
“The criticism affects everyone and he gets his fair share,” said Wright. “But you have to embrace the fact people will criticise you and if you say ‘it doesn’t bother me’, you’re not being truthful.
“He seems angry and thinks people are having a go at him but we want him to do well.
“You don’t want your number one goalkeeper feeling like everyone is against him, you want him to be in the best form of his life going into the Euros.”
Sutton added: “He has to do his talking on the pitch – what he’s not been doing this season. By making the statements he has made, that tells me he is feeling fragile.
“If his form does drop and he drops a clanger in the Euro final, people will ask ‘why was he playing?'”
|How the English goalkeepers compare (minimum 10 Premier League games in 2019-20)|
|Name||Team||Appearances||Saves||Goals conceded||Clean sheets||Errors leading to goals|
|Tom Heaton||Aston Villa||20||68||35||4||0|
|Dean Henderson||Sheffield United||25||65||21||9||1|
Article courtesy of BBC Sport