PREMIER LEAGUE

Ancelotti calls on Pickford to improve amid growing competition at national level

The Everton boss revealed that he had spoken to Pickford in recent days about his form with the England goalkeeper’s place in the national team in doubt.

Ancelotti calls on Pickford to improve amid growing competition at national level
BEN STANSALL AFP

Everton have been on a poor run of form in recent games and suffered a comprehensive loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. A major concern for the Toffees has been the form of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford who nearly let a tame effort slip through his legs at Molineux.

Speaking before his side’s fixture against Aston Villa, Carlo Ancelotti admitted that he had spoken to Pickford about his current performance level.

“He’s not doing well,” said the Everton manager. “I spoke to him about this yesterday. There is absolutely no problem. For the quality that he has, and he agreed, he has to be better. He has to be focused on himself, on his performance, day by day to be better.

“I and everyone else at the club has total confidence in his quality. It is true he can do better and he knows this because he is critical of himself. I hope there is improvement in the next games.”

Pickford has been England’s first-choice goalkeeper under Gareth Southgate due in large part to his ability with his feet but unless he can kick the mistakes that have crept into his game he may find himself out of the side.

International football restarts in September with Nations League fixtures against Iceland and Denmark and it seems likely that Southgate will use these games as a chance to give opportunities to some of England’s less experienced goalkeepers. The real test of Pickford’s place in the pecking order will come in October when they face Belgium who are currently top of the FIFA rankings and who defeated England twice at the 2018 World Cup.

The Competition

Pickford has made 24 international appearances since making his debut in 2017 and has started in all but one of England’s competitive fixtures since starring in the 2018 World Cup. However the 26-year-old now faces the first real challenge to his place in the starting XI.

Burnley’s Nick Pope is currently leading the race for the Premier League Golden Glove and capped an impressive season with a brilliant performance at Anfield last weekend to earn his side a point against the champions. Pope is an excellent shot-stopper but seems less suited to Southgate’s style of play and has one of the worst pass completion rates of any goalkeeper in the league.

A more likely long-term replacement for Pickford is Dean Henderson, the young Manchester United goalkeeper currently on loan at Sheffield United. The 23-year-old has made mistakes on occasion in his first season in the top flight but has shown that he is comfortable playing out from the back and was called up to the most recent squad as a replacement for the injured Tom Heaton. Blades boss Chris Wilder heaped praise on Henderson in recent weeks, admitting that “his future is at Manchester United, no doubt”.