England boss Gareth Southgate has revealed details of a phone call he had with Jordan Pickford after seeing him collide with Virgil van Dijk in the Premier League.
The Football Association also decided against taking any retrospective action against the 26-year-old for the dangerous challenge, which left the Reds’ talismanic centre-back requiring surgery on a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Pickford’s form between the sticks for the Toffees has been erratic since then, and he was dropped by head coach Carlo Ancelotti for the team’s last outing at Newcastle, with Roma loanee Robin Olsen stepping in during the 2-1 defeat.
Despite a turbulent month on and off the pitch for the Everton No.1, he retained his spot in Southgate’s England squad ahead of a friendly against Finlandand UEFA Nations’ League meetings with Belgium and Iceland over the upcoming international break.
The Three Lions head coach has insisted that Pickford remains unopposed as his first choice ‘keeper, while offering an insight into a conversation he had with him after seeing the backlash he received following his clash with Van Dijk.
“It was after the Liverpool game. I was just checking in,” Southgate told a press conference of how he has handled the Everton shot-stopper’s recent struggles.
“I recognised that it had been a very high-profile situation and there had been a lot of collateral fallout in a very public way so I just felt it would be an appropriate call to make to see how he was and if I could help him in any way really.
“When people say I’ve been loyal to him I mean he’s deserved that. His performances have been excellent for us, so that’s not been a difficult decision for me.
“We have some competition for places but I’d have to say that there’s nobody that I think is challenging seriously at the moment to push him out of that position.
“Of course this has been a very difficult period for him in terms of the spotlight on that particular challenge and because of the profile of the player involved in it as well but it is disappointing to see a player like that miss football.
Source : goal.com