Jordan Pickford has withdrawn from England's squad for their upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers with a muscle injury.
The Everton goalkeeper has returned to the club's USM Finch Farm training base after the Toffees' and Three Lions' medical teams decided that it was in his best interests to pull out of the squad for the clashes with Malta and Slovakia.
In a brief statement posted on the Football Association's website, Pickford's withdrawal was confirmed and manager Gareth Southgate will now decide who should play in goal out of his three remaining goalkeeping choices.
The statement read: “Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has left the England camp and returned to Everton.
“Having reported to St. George’s Park on Sunday evening, the 23-year-old underwent an assessment on a muscle injury sustained playing for his club.
“After discussions between England and Everton medics, it was decided it was in the player’s best interests to return to Finch Farm for further treatment.
“Gareth Southgate will now prepare for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia with the remaining three goalkeepers in his 27-man squad.”
Pickford has been in superb form for Ronald Koeman's team since his £30m summer switch from relegated Sunderland, and has started all but one of the Blues' competitive matches so far this season.
The 23-year-old kept four successive clean sheets before conceding his first goal of the campaign against Manchester City on 21st August, and has also shipped a further three combined goals against Hajduk Split and Chelsea in Everton's last two games.
Jordan Pickford could probably save the NHS if he tried.— Laura 🖤 (@JustLaurahhh) August 24, 2017
His performances for the Merseysiders, however, had led to a first proper international call up to the senior England side - Pickford having been selected as a late addition for last November's matches against Scotland and Spain - and would have been in with a chance of making his senior bow for the Three Lions before this setback.
Pickford has featured for England all youth levels, including the Under-21 side which suffered European Championship heartbreak in the summer as they lost their semi-final clash with auld rivals Germany on penalties.