Former Everton striker Kevin Campbell has rushed to Jordan Pickford’s defence and stated that the under-fire goalkeeper remains England’s first-choice, despite the evidence supporting the contrary.
Pickford has dealt Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate a potential dilemma ahead of this month’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark, having struggled to deliver at the highest level in recent weeks with blunders against Crystal Palace and Manchester United.
He was forced to defend his position a year ago after a catastrophic performance against Newcastle United, too, but Campbell is adamant that no matter how much evidence suggests Pickford is not the number one, no one has done enough to take the jersey away.
“Stats can lie,” Campbell told Love Sport Radio. “Jordan Pickford, I still think he’s a very, very good goalkeeper. He’s the main man right now.
“He has made some mistakes, but you name me a ‘keeper who doesn’t make mistakes? I just think he’s the man in possession right now. And for all the poor mistakes he’s made, he’s made some really good saves as well.
“So a lot of people tend to look at the negatives, but I don’t think the other ‘keepers have done enough to take it away from him so I think he should be number one.”
Is Pickford still England's #1?
While Campbell seems to believe the other English goalkeepers vying for the Three Lions’ number one jersey have not done enough to poach it from Pickford, Dean Henderson’s efforts for Sheffield United have not gone amiss elsewhere in the country.
Chelsea are reportedly targeting the Manchester United-owned shot-stopper as his Old Trafford future remains up in the air, while Frank Lampard is considering replacing Kepa Arrizabalaga – the world’s most expensive ‘keeper signed from Athletic Bilbao for £71m in 2018 – at Stamford Bridge after a string of errors.
Statistics also argue that Burnley’s Nick Pope should be considered as England’s first-choice, having bounced back from a year out injured to being a regular shining light in what has been a mostly miserable season at Turf Moor.
Despite the Clarets fighting off relegation, Pope has kept more clean sheets than any other English ‘keeper (11 in 29 games), compared to Henderson’s 10 in 27, Watford’s Ben Foster’s nine in 29 and Pickford’s six in 29.
Pope has also made more successful runs out (15) and high claims (33), while Foster ranks top for saves from shots inside the box (64) and Bournemouth’s Aaron Ramsdale is top for punches (14) and total saves (102), per Sofa Score.