Goalkeeper Selection Headache For Southgate

Pickford, Ramsdale, Pope

With competition fierce for a starting spot in the England squad, none more so than between the sticks, we discuss the multiple goalkeeper options available to England and can a new star rise to claim the number one jersey at this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Gareth Southgate has four shot-stoppers at his disposal to choose from in what will be a hotly contested battle for the number one shirt in the upcoming season. England’s campaign in the Nations League resumes in September, before their World Cup group stage opening fixture against Iran on the 21st of November.

Pickford’s to lose

England’s current number one in the nets is Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, a constant in Southgate’s starting XI during the national manager’s time in the post.

Pickford has gained valuable knockout tournament football in a very short space of time. The former Sunderland man started every fixture during the 2018 World Cup and the 2020 European Championship campaign, facing two penalty shoot-outs in the process, including that heartbreaking defeat to Italy.

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It’s fair to say Pickford does receive a fair amount of criticism, sometimes unjust, but that is a hazard of the job of being England’s number one. “Everyone hates you, for some reason, that’s part of being an England player,” Pickford told the reporters 2020.

Pickford has racked up an impressive twenty-one clean sheets in forty-five games for the Three Lions, including an outstanding five clean sheets during the Euro 2020 campaign, where England did not concede a goal until the Semi-Final stages.

Pickford kept just seven clean sheets last season, as Everton narrowly avoided relegation in what was a disappointing season all round at Goodison Park, Pickford’s lowest amount whilst playing for Everton since making his Toffees debut in 2017.

The former Sunderland man however is not afraid to come out to clear the ball from deliveries into the box, as is evident. The 28-year-old recorded the most punches in the league last season with twenty-two.

But it’s currently Pickford’s shirt to lose, he will need to be on top of his game this coming season as competition is fierce with a World Cup just over five months away.

Strong competition

No less than two of our main contenders will find themselves at new clubs this summer. Nick Pope who was relegated with Burnley last season, after losing to Newcastle United on the final day of last season, joins the Magpies revolution. 

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Pope, 30, who signed in a £10 million deal will be vying for a starting berth, citing one of the main reasons for moving to the northeast is to target a place in England’s 2022 World Cup squad. The former Burnley custodian kept nine clean sheets last season the second most for an English goalkeeper, with only Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale recording more shutouts (12) than Pope during last season.

Cambridgeshire-born Pope also pulled off more saves than any of his compatriots with 121, Pickford was second with a 117. When it came to high claims, Pope led the way with forty-six throughout the season. The second closest was Ramsdale with a lowly twenty-six.

Our second contender is the Arsenal number one, Aaron Ramsdale. A breakthrough season last term has seen the Stoke-born goalkeeper cement a starting XI spot in North London. A strong first half of the season saw the 24-year-old keep nine clean sheets by the turn of the year. Ramsdale would go on to record another three clean sheets as the season closed out.

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Expectations will be high for Ramsdale next term, as he looks to build upon a good first season with Arsenal, and the thought of European football will be a good step up for the young keeper. With three England caps to his name, including two outings in the recent Nations League fixtures, Ramsdale will be pushing Pickford all the way to get into Southgate’s plans.

According to reports, newly promoted Nottingham Forest have all but confirmed the loan signing of Manchester United understudy Dean Henderson.

Henderson, 25, failed to make a single Premier League appearance for the Reds last season, something Henderson must fix if he is to be considered for Southgate’s World Cup plans.

You would have to go back to Henderson’s spell at Sheffield United, during the 2019/20 campaign for his longest run of first-team action, as Henderson recorded thirteen clean sheets during a successful first season in the Premier League at Bramall Lane. The end of the 2020/21 season saw a short flurry of first-team action for Henderson, where he made 13 appearances in the league, but that was not enough to dislodge David De Gea for very long, as the Spaniard retained his shirt at the start of the following season.

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With Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba all but confirmed to be leaving the City Ground, Henderson should have no problem in making the number one shirt his own as Forest kick-off their first top-flight campaign for 23 years.

With all four goalkeepers sure to be starters for their respective clubs this coming season, it promises to be an exciting contest and will provide England manager Gareth Southgate with a difficult task of who will make the squad, and ultimately start the opening game against Iran on November 21st.

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