Paul Merson names Everton star Jordan Pickford in ideal England XI for World Cup
Paul Merson wants to see Everton ace Jordan Pickford in goal for England when they open their World Cup campaign against Iran later this year.
Pickford’s position as the nation’s number one has come under pressure due to the form of Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and Newcastle’s Nick Pope, with the Toffees star missing the current round of internationals due to a thigh injury.
But writing in his Sky Sports column [22 September] ahead of Friday’s clash with Italy in Milan, Merson shared that he expects to see Pickford in goal when England face Iran in November in Qatar.
Merson went with an unorthodox back-four, with Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back and Kyle Walker partnering John Stones at centre-back, with traditional right-back Kieran Trippier playing on the left.
He also has Declan Rice sitting in midfield, with Phil Foden and Mason Mount playing ahead of him supporting a front three made up of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Harry Kane.
If anyone deserves to keep their place in the team following a spell out injured it’s Pickford, especially considering Gareth Southgate’s recent comments on trust.
Pickford has had moments of madness in his career, but over the last 18 months he has really matured and become a leader on the pitch as seen by Frank Lampard handing him the armband in the absence of Seamus Coleman and his excellent performances this season.
Ramsdale is playing at a higher level currently, but Pickford has done nothing wrong during his time as an England international under Southgate and with his admission that Harry Maguire is set to keep his place despite a lack of action it would be hypocritical to then drop Pickford too.
His shot stopping has been a big part of his game, but he’s also very adept with his feet and when it comes to claiming crosses and until his performances start to dip he deserves his place.
We all agree with Merson in this instance and fingers crossed he is back fit and playing regularly soon because there’s no doubt Everton and England are weaker without him.