Jordan Pickford says the Blues are ready to “give everything” to emerge victorious in the 231st Merseyside derby on Saturday.
The 23-year-old goalkeeper has caught the eye since joining Everton from Sunderland last summer – his shot-stopping ability, distribution and composure seeing him tipped to be England’s number one at the World Cup in Russia.
Having already played in two clashes against Liverpool this season – both at Anfield – Pickford now cannot wait to experience a fervent derby atmosphere at the Grand Old Lady.
And he’s under no illusions as to what victory would mean to Evertonians.
“I’ve been looking forward to this game since I joined the Club,” he said. “Being from the north east, I know what a big derby match means. I’ve had the chance to play in the Merseyside derby at Anfield but it will mean that much more playing in front of our supporters at Goodison. I know the atmosphere is going to be rocking and we need to give everything for them.
“It’s not been the season we’d hoped but we have shown the talent we’ve got at times and this game is a chance to do that again. We know how much it would mean to our fans.”
Pickford’s consistency has been all the more impressive given that he has not had the opportunity to play with a regular backline.
While manager Sam Allardyce has been able to name the same back four for the past three matches, injuries – as well as fierce competition for places – have seen the defence tweaked over the course of the campaign.
Pickford – who has played every minute of every Premier League game this season – believes each player who has been called upon has stepped up to the mark.
“We’ve had a lot of chops and changes in the back four or five,” he said. “And that just shows what type of lads we are, whoever’s called upon will always put a shift in.
“We’re always ready to perform on the day. Having competition is good, though, because you’ve always got to perform on that day and that’ll only make us better.”
It is not only the England stopper’s goalkeeping attributes which have impressed, with his character, communication and leadership qualities also coming to the fore.
With the keeper being able to see the action play out in front of him, Pickford says he is constantly offering advice and encouragement to his defenders.
“I’m always trying to communicate in the right ways and always trying to help the lads out,” he says. “It’s best for the team.
“The main thing for me is to win the game, and the best way I can do that is by communicating. If I communicate in front of me, then hopefully I’ll have an easier day.”