Former Sunderland boss Terry Butcher has called on Jordan Pickford to “prove a point” ahead of England’s curtain raiser at Euro 2020.
Butcher, who also played for the Black Cats, believes there’s no questions surrounding whether Pickford is England’s number one, but believes the Sunderland academy graduate needs to have ‘higher’ concentration levels.
Pickford was one of the stars of the World Cup in 2018 as England knocked out Columbia in a penalty shootout to secure a quarter-final spot.
However, there have been question marks over his form for his club, after making a number of costly mistakes for Everton over the past two seasons.
Nonetheless, Butcher believes the 27-year-old is still England’s best keeper but must get back to the high standards he set in Russia.
Speaking to PlayOJO, Butcher said: “Well Pickford’s first choice. He’s got 30 caps already, he’s by far the most experienced of our keepers but for me his concentration levels have got to be higher.
“His decision making has got to be better, but I think he’s got a point to prove, he wants to get back to the form he showed in Russia and get back to the high standards he set.
“My real worry with England is the system. Do you have a back three or back four?
“I would prefer him to go with a back four as it suits the players further up. I don’t see a necessity to play a three when other international teams play with one up front, I think we’re losing a man up there.
“I think it puts pressure on the midfield and the back three. I think Gareth needs to make a decision; I think he’ll go with a back three but I’m not too sure.”
Gareth Southgate confirmed his 26-man squad for the tournament earlier this week and there was no surprise to see Jordan Henderson selected, despite his recent injury problems.
The former Sunderland midfielder is one of the most experienced players in the Three Lions squad, but his involvement in the tournament had been cast into doubt when he missed the tail end of the season for Liverpool.
Nonetheless, Butcher believes that Henderson’s unique qualities meant it would have been difficult for Southgate to leave him out of the team.
Butcher said: “I think Gareth is one for looking at recent form, he isn’t interested in what they did at the start of the season, he looks at what they’re doing now.
“I like Jordan Henderson, he’s a leader in the middle of the park, he bullies people about which is very rare in football these days.
“You need to raise your game to train as well as to play for England, because you’re playing with such great players you don’t want to appear a mug, there’s internal pressure you put upon yourself as well as the pressure of playing for your country.”
You can read the full transcript of Butcher’s interview here.