With Joe Hart out of the frame and Jack Butland and Nick Pope the other alternatives, Gareth Southgate's choice should be pretty straightforward.

By 90Min
March 22, 2018

Jordan Pickford must feel like he already has one large hand on the England's No. 1 goalkeeper's jersey ahead of this summer's World Cup.

The Everton star has been given the nod by Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate to start Friday's friendly against the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena after impressing in training during the international break.

Pickford's self-assured displays and talent will come as no surprise to Evertonians - or fans of his former club Sunderland - but they may raise eyebrows among England's traveling contingent.

The thing is, those who harbor concerns over Pickford need not worry. He's the best option in goal that England have.

In a season that the Toffees will quickly draw a line under once the final match of the 2017/18 campaign ends, Pickford has been the sole shining light from a £200m summer outlay that has helped Everton go backwards rather than forwards.

His command of the area, stunning saves, athleticism, counterattacking ability via throws or long kicks and confidence have made him a standout candidate to win the Blues' Player of the Season award, regardless of how few nominees there will be.

Fans of England's other goalkeeping options in Stoke's Jack Butland and Burnley's Nick Pope will argue that their respective shot stoppers should start ahead of Pickford, but there's little to suggest why in all truth.

Butland, for all of his talents, is keeping goal in a Potters side that is struggling to maintain its Premier League status. Only five clean sheets have been chalked up by the 25-year-old this term and, with a couple of mistakes against Manchester City and, ironically, Everton entering his game in recent times, may not be the most confident option to select.

Pope, meanwhile, has been outstanding for the Clarets during a remarkable season for Sean Dyche's men. He's deputized ably for Tom Heaton during his dislocated shoulder injury and has grown in stature since he entered the side back in September.

With no caps to his name and the potential for a poor World Cup to devastate his character, however, is the ex-Charlton man the best choice for Southgate? Maybe after this summer, but not currently.

On-loan West Ham keeper Joe Hart is also among the contenders, lest it be forgotten, but if he does go to Russia it'll merely be in an advisory and experienced capacity given his fall from grace in recent seasons.

True, Pickford - like Butland - hasn't kept many shutouts and has dropped the odd clanger or two this term. Like Pope, too, he doesn't exude experience at international level.

With little time for Southgate to make a decision on his No. 1, however, he's the best pick of the bunch for this summer hands down.

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