Even a site that professes relatively little interest – on the part of its main contributors – in international football can stand back and applaud when England call up a player who is not only a Sunderland team member but “one of our own”.
Jordan Pickford therefore carries Salut! Sunderland‘s warmest congratulations into Tuesday’s World Cup qualifying game against Slovenia.
It says a lot about Pickford and Jermain Defoe that even with the team propping up the whole of the Premier League, shipping goals at one end and not scoring many at the other, the keeper and main (only?) striker should be such obvious candidates for inclusion in an England squad.
Defoe’s age, 34 last week, works against him even though there may well be a case for turning to such a consistently reliable goalscorer when immediate results are needed. Pickford, at 22, has no such impediment and has clearly impressed Gareth Southgate as he has us with the tremendous performances he has put in even when, as usual, he ends up on the losing side. So bravo, Jordan, and keep banging away at them, Jermain.
Jordan’s goalstopping is on a par with most top-class keepers, his command of the box is impressive and his distribution is mostly superb. Many Sunderland keepers in recent years have matched him on the first of those qualities; none has managed all three. Indeed, some have managed no more than the goalstopping part.
“Over the moon for him – great lad,” said one of this site’s great friends whose work involved close contact with Jordan today. Those of us who know the “great lad” only from what he does for us on the pitch can easily share the first thought and be chuffed about the second.
It is difficult to escape the thought that Jordan will before long be England’s first choice keeper. But Ellis Short, David Moyes and the other SAFC players have a role, too – to deliver the Premier League stability that might make neither player harbour thoughts of leaving for another club.