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Who will be the Next England Goalkeeper?

March 9, 2018

 

 

With the next England squad for the March Internationals to be named next week, thoughts turn to who will be the goalkeeper at this summer’s world cup. With Joe Hart sitting on the bench at West Ham it means that potentially a new goalie will get a chance but it’s far from straight-forward who it will be.

Before examining the potential candidates it feels right to reflect on Joe Hart. He’s been the England number 1 for some time and getting 75 caps is no mean feat but it’s now time to move on. He wasn’t good at the 2016 Euros and his form since then has been awful. He needs to leave Man City permanently and find himself a new club where the manager backs him because he’s still young enough to find his best form again. He’s a goalie who at his peak was nearly the best in the Premier League and he needs to find the right club where perhaps he can regain that form. Maybe then he can get his number one England status back.

If it’s not Joe Hart then who will it be? This is where there is a real issue. Of the backup goalkeepers, Fraser Forster has been dropped from the Southampton team and Tom Heaton has missed most of this season for Burnley through injury. Assuming that Southgate doesn’t go back to the 34 year old Ben Foster then there’s three possible candidates to start as England goalkeeper this summer. Those three are Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland & the outsider Nick Pope.

Looking at them in order, first up is Jordan Pickford. He’s done ok this season for Everton but it’s clear he’s still young and developing. He has the potential in three or four years to become a top top goalkeeper but he’s still learning. He did really well for the England Under 21’s last summer in their Euros and when he got his one England game last autumn he played very well. The question mark with him is whether he’s yet ready to take the gloves at the World’s biggest football tournament having played just one game for his country. That’s a big ask.

Next we have Jack Butland. At least he’s been to a tournament. Six years ago he was the third goalkeeper for England’s Euro 2012 campaign. His career has been a bit stop start with injuries and this season has been difficult for him in a weak Stoke side fighting a relegation battle. He’s not much older than Pickford and is still a keeper of immense potential who isn’t quite there yet and really needs to just keep working and getting better. Again is he ready for the biggest tournament in World Football? It could be the making of him yet if he made a big mistake it could set him back years.

The final contender is the outsider Nick Pope. If you were choosing a goalie purely on form this season then he’d be the England number one. He has the advantage of playing in a Burnley team that knows how to defend but his rise since Tom Heaton got injured has been amazing. It’s unlikely that he’ll be the number one goalkeeper at the world cup but surely he’s done enough to be in the squad having had such a good season.

If I had to pick a goalkeeper my leaning now is towards Pickford. I would pick Pope in the next squad to have a look at him to see if he has any chance. What I would also do is move on from Joe Hart. The reason I mention this is because Gareth Southgate may not. He may even keep him as his number one for the World Cup. I really hope that isn’t the case but we don’t know enough yet about Southgate’s management. He was bold enough to drop Champions League players like Chris Smalling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from his last squad. Will he be bold with his goalkeeper? We will see soon enough.

 

 

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