‘Pickford has been outstanding for England’ – Heaton unconcerned by national team-mate’s Everton form

The Toffees shot-stopper has come in for criticism at club level but a fellow goalkeeper has given the 25-year-old his full backing

Tom Heaton believes Jordan Pickford has earned the right to be considered England’s number one.

Everton goalkeeper Pickford was one of the heroes of England’s run at the 2018 World Cup, saving pivotally from Carlos Bacca as Gareth Southgate’s side saw off Colombia on penalties en route to the semi-finals.

The 25-year-old has endured an occasionally torrid time since, making a number of high-profile errors for his club in the Premier League.

Heaton missed the World Cup through injury and has had to battle against fellow England internationals Nick Pope and Joe Hart to win his place back in the Burnley starting XI.

He is now providing competition for Pickford ahead of England’s opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro but remains keen to talk up his team-mate’s achievements.

“I think he’s been outstanding wearing the England shirt. I thought he was incredible during the summer in the World Cup,” Heaton told a news conference.

“His performances were really top drawer. It’s never an easy thing to do, putting the England goalkeeper jersey on and I think he did it superbly well.

“When you’re here, you compete for the place. Everybody wants to play but you think about yourself, try to get your things right and see what the manager decides. There’ll be no issues with any of that.”

Asked whether Pickford’s mistakes for Everton had opened the door for him to become England’s first choice, Heaton replied: “I don’t tend to look at it like that, I have to say. It’s about myself and what I do.

“Jordan’s performances have been outstanding for England and that’s where it’s at.

“You try to impress the manager and see what decision he makes. You respect that decision and support whoever’s in.”

Back at it!#ThreeLions pic.twitter.com/OqGdYxFpOZ— Jordan Pickford (@JPickford1) March 19, 2019

Heaton and club colleague James Tarkowski were joined by Burnley team-mate Dwight McNeil during Tuesday’s training session at St George’s Park, with Gareth Southgate inviting the promising teenage winger to step up from the Under-20s and make up the numbers with his senior squad.

“Dwight has been a revelation since he’s come in the team at Burnley. He’s been absolutely outstanding,” Heaton said after McNeil rubbed shoulders with contemporaries Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

“I think he’s one of those players with an awful lot of potential who’s only going to get better.

“We’re impressed with him every day at Burnley and he’s come in [with England] and the lads were telling me he was like a duck to water.

“So it’s good for him and it’s good for the club.”

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