Keane Backs Pickford To Become 'World Class'

by Paul McNamara
@Everton

Michael Keane says Everton number one Jordan Pickford has “everything you need in a goalkeeper” and can achieve world-class status.

Pickford has enjoyed an outstanding debut Toffees campaign following his move from Sunderland in summer 2017 and is a contender to wear the gloves for England at this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

The 24-year-old has played every minute of Everton’s Premier League season. He produced a wonderful stop from Xherdan Shaqiri on his first top-flight start for the Club to help seal the opening-day victory over Stoke City – and has not looked back since.

Pickford’s consistently excellent form was rewarded with a first full England cap last November when he shut out world champions Germany in a Wembley stalemate.

And the keeper was similarly impregnable on his second Three Lions appearances last month, repelling all Holland could throw at him in a 1-0 success in Amsterdam, on a night when Pickford’s assurance in possession drew a host of plaudits – and spawned the construction of an attack which ended with Jesse Lingard striking the game's decisive goal.

“Jordan can go all the way to the top,” Keane told evertonfc.com. “He has everything. His shot-stopping is great, he is quick off the mark to get to the floor and make his saves.

“His kicking and distribution are really impressive as well, which is a massive thing in the modern game.

“He is dominant. He is aggressive. He has everything you need in a goalkeeper. He is still young and learning, so there are things he can improve but I am sure over the years they will come… and he will be a world-class goalkeeper.

“He did really well [for England against Holland] and it shows the confidence he has in his own ability to play like that – in a game like that.

“He has been brilliant for us all season and has been great in the past two England games he has played, too.

“I am really happy for him and, hopefully, he can be the number one at the World Cup.”

Pickford’s raking distribution and authoritative command of his penalty area have contributed significantly to the Wearsider's rising stock, while he has made 112 saves this term – six more than Manchester United’s keeper, David de Gea.

Pickford’s total of 22 punches is second only to the 24 completed by Heurelho Gomes of Watford. The Everton player, who pulled off four vital stops in the Blues' 1-1 draw at Swansea City on Saturday, has recorded eight Premier League clean sheets this season – including one against Liverpool earlier this month when he spectacularly denied Reds pair Dominic Solanke and James Milner during the first half of a scoreless draw.

Former Manchester United and Burnley centre-back Keane, who played with formidable Spain international de Gea at Old Trafford, insists Pickford infuses the players in front of him with confidence.

And Keane considers Pickford’s communication skills to be an asset just as valuable as any other in his teammate’s long list of attributes.

“He talks a lot, which is good,” added Keane. “As a centre-half, you want that in your goalkeeper, you want to know he is telling you where the strikers are and is getting you up the pitch when you need to do that.

“Having someone like Jordan behind you gives you confidence. And we know if we have to rely on him we have a good chance because he is a great shot-stopper.”

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