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World Cup: England’s Pickford waiting for chance to translate 600 training saves into one match save

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford speaks at the media access at Repino Cronwell Park, Repino yesterday ahead of the match with Belgium on Thursday (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire).
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford speaks at the media access at Repino Cronwell Park, Repino yesterday ahead of the match with Belgium on Thursday (Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire).
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Jordan Pickford has been making hundreds of saves at England’s World Cup training base, but is still waiting to make his first real stop in the competition.

Pickford has been working hard with understudies Jack Butland and Nick Pope on a daily basis in the purpose-built facility in Repino, under the watchful eye of goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson, busily preparing himself for the biggest games of his career.

He has had less to do than most of his team-mates in Russia so far, with England on the front foot in victories over Tunisia and Panama, but has still conceded in both games.

After narrowly failing to save a penalty in the opening fixture he was then given little chance when the Central Americans converted from a late free-kick in their 6-1 defeat.

“I haven’t made a save yet, but that means the other 10 players are doing their jobs,” said the Everton man.

“It was a bit disappointing not to get the clean sheet against Panama the other day… as goalkeepers and defenders, as a full team, we definitely want to keep clean sheets.

“The further we go in the tournament, clean sheets win games and that’s our mentality.

“As long as I’m communicating and staying in the game my concentration is always going to be there.

“We do about 600 saves in a training week, just for that one save on a matchday. That’s why you’ve got to be in the game at all times.”

Pickford can expect to see more action against Belgium in Kaliningrad tomorrow providing he makes the team sheet.

Both sides have already qualified for the last 16, with the final Group G fixture merely settling first and second place.

Several changes are likely on each side, but Pickford does not yet know if manager Gareth Southgate will make one between the posts.

“I’m always ready to play when called upon, that’s why I train so hard,” he said.

“If I’m not playing I’ll support whoever is called upon, but the manager hasn’t made that decision yet. We all just keep working hard until he makes it.”

Pickford’s focus has been trained firmly on England matters since the end of the season, meaning a busy time at Goodison Park has hardly had a chance to make an impression.

When he returns to pre-season training it will be under a new manager, Marco Silva, and it seems increasingly likely there will be no Wayne Rooney.

The former England captain is reportedly on the verge of finalising his move to DC United, cutting short his Merseyside homecoming after just one season.

“It’s great to have had the opportunity to work with him,” said Pickford.

“He was a great lad around the place and has got unbelievable talent.

“I was growing up watching Rooney as an England legend and as one of the top players in England in my lifetime. That’s why he’s the top goalscorer for England.

“But I don’t know what’s going on at the club, I’m just focused really on getting as far as we can in the World Cup for England.”

Having sat out against Tunisia and Panama, Sheffield-born defender Gary Cahill will be hoping for a chance to showcase himself in England’s back three tomorrow, possibly in place of former Sheffield United and Hull City centre-back Harry Maguire.

“Both teams are going to make changes, that’s well documented,” said Cahill.

“It doesn’t matter. We are going to make changes and they are going to be top players who come in.

“It’s a rare occasion when the pressure has eased off it a bit, but the size of the game still makes it our biggest test yet.”