Soccer

Pickford injury troubling but Pope shows he's ready for England

Jordan Pickford’s injury was a troubling sight for Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti and England manager Gareth Southgate… but reliable Nick Pope showed he is ready to answer the call ahead of the Euros

  • Jordan Pickford went off injured during Everton’s clash with Burnley
  • The goalkeeper has been impressive for the Toffees in recent weeks
  • Nick Pope showed he is ready to be England’s No 1 if Pickford remains injured 
  • Pope was on the winning side as Burnley beat the Toffees 2-1 at Goodison Park 

It was the slap of the left hand that gave the game away. Right arm tucked under his body, appearing to nurse his hip, Jordan Pickford’s reaction immediately after he had crashed to the ground showed this was not going to be a quick fix for a physio.

Pickford had flung himself to his right in an attempt to keep out another Dwight McNeil blockbuster. Everton’s number one had already been beaten twice and the fury he felt towards his team-mates for presenting chances to McNeil and Chris Wood had been evident as he screeched in frustration.

The yelp this time was different. He tried gingerly to get to his feet and attempted to get referee Jon Moss’s attention so he could receive treatment. It was apparent, though, that his night was going to end. Pickford attempted to solider on for a few minutes but it was all in vain.

Jordan Pickford was forced off with an injury in Everton’s 2-1 defeat by Burnley

The goalkeeper’s departure was a troubling sight for Carlo Ancelotti and England boss Gareth Southgate

Off he trudged in the 43rd minute, handing a first opportunity in the Premier League to his replacement Joao Virginia. Pickford is not the kind of character to leave at a whim, so this was very much a troubling sight for two managers.

Carlo Ancelotti has made a policy of rotating his goalkeepers but in the biggest games, Pickford has had the gloves. In recent weeks, his form has been excellent and he had a major input into victories against Liverpool, Southampton and West Brom that pushed Everton into top four contention.

Yes, there had been some erratic moments prior to that. Gareth Southgate, England’s manager, was at Goodison Park on January 27 when Pickford’s error allowed Leicester to pilfer a 1-1 draw in the Premier League but Southgate is a confirmed fan of the 26-year-old.

There is no question that a fit Pickford would be in goal for the two tricky assignments England face at the end of this month – away in Albania, home to Poland – in the same way he would be expected to get the call to face Manchester City in next week’s FA Cup quarter-final.

 Nick Pope showed he is ready to answer the call if Pickford remains injured for the forseeable

There has been a big debate about who should start in goal at the European Championships

What Southgate and scouts will see, however, when they analyse this game is that Nick Pope is ready to answer the call, if it comes to that point. It has been a big debate over the last 18 months about who should start the European Championships and Pope has a legion of admirers.

Dean Henderson, who is starting to establish himself with Manchester United, also has his supporters but Pope – making his 100th Premier League start here – is reliable and unflappable. His shot-stopping is exemplary and his temperament is solid. Whenever he was called upon here, he made a decisive input.

His night started with a two firm hands beating away a near-post drive from Richarlison; he was largely untroubled for the rest of the first half as Burnley dominated and after the break, he was similarly calm, his best moments being a save from Andre Gomes and smothering at the feet of Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Pope was booked late on – Moss deeming he was guilty of time-wasting – but it never bothered him and he showed it in the 87th minute when plucking Lucas Digne’s corner out of the air. If Pickford’s injury is serious, Southgate will know where to look.  




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