Sam Allardyce is sure a “mature” Jordan Pickford will continue to improve after an impressive start to his Everton career.
The former Sunderland shotstopper was handed his Black Cats debut nearly two years ago by Allardyce in an FA Cup tie against Arsenal on 9 January 2016.
He made his Premier League bow a week later at White Hart Lane when Sunderland took on Tottenham Hotspur and was handed a new contract by Allardyce soon after.
The pair are now reunited at Everton, with Pickford making 25 appearances since his summer switch from the Stadium of Light. And the Blues boss has seen plenty of improvement in the 23-year-old glovesman, backing him to keep it up.
“I have seen more maturity,” Allardyce told evertontv. “For such a young man, he looks very mature for his age. And he still has a long way to go in terms of improvement because his talent is that big.
“That comes from gaining the experiences that he has been getting now, and for him not to think that he has made it. He can’t afford to think ‘maybe I can stop putting in all that work now’ – now is the time to do more. You do much more research into goalkeeping and its up to us to help him.
“It will make him a much, much better goalkeeper in the future, even though he is performing at the top level of his game at the moment. But there is still room within his potential for more.”
A sign of that growing maturity is Pickford’s willingness, despite his young age, to bark instruction at his back line.
Everton’s current defence currently boasts youngsters Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate, 20 and 21 respectively, plus an out of position Cuco Martina at left-back. And yet, they have kept four clean sheets in their last six games, conceding just twice.
And Pickford’s command of his penalty area and back line has played its part according to Allardyce.
“It is difficult to find a goalkeeper who talks at that age!” he joked. “Lots of players are a lot quieter than they were in my era. These days they try and play by their performances and maybe the communication is not quite as clear as it was.
“But certainly a goalkeeper at that age instructing his back four is very important.”