By George Overhill

3rd Dec, 2022 | 8:40pm

Wayne Rooney full of confidence in Everton keeper Jordan Pickford for dramatic England situation

Wayne Rooney has backed Everton keeper Jordan Pickford for his “great mentality” in penalty shoot-out situations ahead of England’s World Cup knock-out game.

The Toffees and Three Lions number one could be called upon to be the hero if there is nothing between them and Senegal on Sunday night (4 December).

The 28-year-old was in goal as Gareth Southgate’s side broke their miserable record in major tournament shoot-outs against Colombia in Russia four years ago, and saved a kick in the Euro final against Italy last year, leaving former Goodison Park star Rooney full of confidence in him.

In his column for The Times the former England and Everton captain said: “I know England lost the Euro 2020 final on penalties and that is the shoot-out freshest in their heads, but I think if it goes to spot kicks they’ll be fine.

“This England team has a good mindset and Jordan Pickford has a great mentality when it comes to shoot-outs.

“He will do his homework on Senegal and has two recent shoot-outs to study — when Senegal beat Egypt on penalties in the Africa Cup of Nations final and beat them again in qualifying for Qatar.”

Safe hands

Pickford’s personality may lead to him making the occasional error in open play, despite his overall quality, but when it goes to penalties there aren’t many players fans would prefer to see in goal.

Amid endless questioning of his place in the side he has now built up extensive experience at the highest level of international football, so there is unlikely to be anything that he hasn’t seen before.

This England side have shown signs of the ability needed to get to the latter stages of their third tournament in a row, and it would be no surprise if there was the need to come through on penalties at least once along the way.

There have been some high-profile mistakes in an Everton shirt this season, such as in the 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth prior to the World Cup break (12 November), but also some stand-out showings such as the Merseyside derby (3 September).

He was crucial to surviving the relegation battle last season, and it has attracted the attention of the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham of late, with incoming bids considered likely.

Frank Lampard won’t want to lose him so a starring role in any England success in Qatar could have the Toffees boss sweating back on Merseyside.