Saturday, October 20, 2018

England have a goalkeeping dilemma

David Nugent in Editorial, World Cup 12 Mar 2018

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With just a few months until the World Cup, England boss Gareth Southgate has a difficult decision to make about who will be the Three Lions number one in Russia this summer.

Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Stoke’s Jordan Pickford seem to be the favoured pair to start the Three Lions opening game. Former first-choice Joe Hart has struggled to get into the West Ham team this season and recently made a clanger in the Irons 3-0 home defeat against Burnley.

Talented but struggling for form

Pickford and Butland are in very similar situations, in that they have a lot of promise and are still young in terms of goalkeepers. Both have also played behind struggling defences in recent seasons.

There is also the fact that both have made individual mistakes in recent games, which will happen as they are only human. Neither of the pair are in great form, despite being very talented.

If either was playing in a better defence, then they will be less nervous and far better protected by the players in front of them. Instead, they seem to find themselves peppered by shots from the opposition.

In a nightmare campaign for the Toffees, Pickford has been one of the positives. On a number of occasions, he has had to bail out his defenders, who have frankly been woeful.

Butland is playing in the team that has conceded the second most goals this season in the Premier League this season. Nobody can doubt Butland’s ability and potential as an England number of the future, but his recent form has not been great.

The likes of Ben Foster and Fraser Forster have not exactly been in great form of late either. In fact, the latter has lost his place as first choice at Southampton to Alex McCarthy.

Nick Pope needs a chance for England

Burnley have been one of the stories of the Premier League season. The Clarets have enjoyed a strong league campaign under the brilliantly honest Sean Dyche.

One of the stars of the season for the side from Lancashire has been goalkeeper Nick Pope. The 25-year-old started the campaign as a little know backup to regular number one Tom Heaton, who will also be hoping to make the 23-man England squad for this summer’s World Cup.

Pope came into the team because of an injury to Heaton. He has since established himself as one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the English top-flight. The former Charlton star has been outstanding in-between the sticks for the Clarets, keeping ten clean sheets in 26 top-flight appearances, conceding 0.9 goals per game.

His save rate of 79 percent is impressive and higher than the likes of Butland and Pickford. Pope is not expected to be named in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the upcoming friendly games, which is crazy considering his performances.

England face a tricky group in Russia

The Three Lions are second favourites to win Group G at 6/5, with the highly talented and rated Belgians the favourites to top the group. The likes of Tunisia and Panama will also be looking to cause an upset.

England have underperformed at recent international tournaments. The expectations of the current squad are low, due to a seeming lack of quality and depth available to Southgate.

The likes of Butland and Pickford have talented. However, if their form does not pick up, then the England boss will need to look elsewhere for a first choice goalkeeper and Pope may come into the equation.

The England boss has a number of big decisions to make ahead of this summer’s World Cup, who will start in goal is just another headache for the former Middlesbrough boss.

Who should be England’s number one at the World Cup?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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