England star eyeing further ‘steps forward’ after landmark away win over Italy
Jordan Pickford believes England laid down a marker by kicking off their Euro 2024 qualification bid with victory over Italy in Naples.
England had not beaten Italy away from home since 1961 but recorded a 2-1 victory on Thursday night to start their campaign in impressive fashion.
It was the first time Southgate’s team had played since losing their World Cup quarter-final to France in Qatar and was a repeat of the Euro 2020 final, which they lost on penalties at Wembley.
The victory, which also saw Harry Kane become England’s all-time record goalscorer, will be used as further proof that the national team can beat the very best.
Pickford feels it is also now the yardstick for future performances against the elite nations.
“It was a massive game – in history, we haven’t won there for a long time,” he said.
“I feel like those are the steps forward we need to take to become winners really in major championships. I remember the Spain game away when we won 3-2 in Betis’ stadium.
“It is just a little marker we are laying down as a team, our togetherness, our squad mentality. To go forward and be able to beat Italy away from home was a massive game for us.”
Ukraine visit Wembley on Sunday as England look to make it two wins from two on their quest to reach next summer’s tournament in Germany.
It will be an emotionally-charged atmosphere under the arch, with the war in Ukraine at the front of the minds of many inside the stadium.
Pickford is likely to line up against Everton team-mate Vitalii Mykolenko but admits he has not had any pre-match catch-up with the defender.
“I’ve not spoken to him,” he added.
“Since he has come in he has been brilliant. He has gone through a tough time at home for the nation but he is a great lad, works hard, down to earth, gets on with his job and is a top player.
“But they are all good players in that squad and we have to be wary of them in a game we want to win.”