Pickford: Blues Can Be Europa League Force

@Everton

Jordan Pickford insists Everton have the strength in depth to be a Europa League force this season. 

The Blues will make their first appearance in the competition since March 2015 on Thursday when they welcome MFK Ružomberok to Goodison Park for the first leg of a third round qualifier. 

Should Ronald Koeman’s men progress past the Slovakians, they will then face a two-legged play-off to reach the group stage, which begins in September. 

Pickford made his first Everton appearance in last Saturday’s pre-season friendly against KRC Genk and, as one of seven summer signings so far, believes supporters can be optimistic about the Club’s chances in the competition.

“You’ve just got to look at the investment that’s been put into the Club and the players, and the players that were already here, and I think we can go as far as we want to go in the Europa League, really,” the 23-year-old told evertontv. “We’ve got the team, we’ve got the depth as well, which is massive, especially when you’re competing in the Europa League and the Premier League on the weekend as well. 

“There’s only place the Club’s going to go and that’s up. There’s massive ambition and that’s one of the reasons I came to the Club.

“We’ve got to qualify first and we’ve got two tough qualification games coming up. It’s another step again for my career and I think a lot of the younger lads can say the same. 

“It’s going to be a great learning curve for us and we’ll just take each game as it comes.”

Despite playing just 45 minutes against Genk, Pickford is confident he will be ready if called upon to make his Everton debut at Goodison. 

The former Sunderland stopper spent much of his summer in goal for England at the European Under-21 Championship and says he’s ready for an earlier than usual return to competitive action. 

“I’ve been away with England at the Euros, where I’ve had four tournament games and one game pre-tournament so it’s not as if I’m coming in rusty. 

“I had a little break with my girlfriend after that but I’ve been training and I should be fresh if needed.”
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