Former England defender says Southgate’s snub of Arsenal man was a ‘big surprise’

Jason Soutar
England goalkeepers Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale during a warm-up

Stuart Pearce says he was surprised to see Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale fail to pick up any minutes for England during the international break.

Everton’s Jordan Pickford was absent for the Nations League matches against Italy and Germany through injury.

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As he is the undisputed number one goalkeeper under Gareth Southgate, it was unclear who would get a chance to impress in the final break before the World Cup.

Ramsdale, Newcastle United’s Nick Pope and Nottingham Forest’s Dean Henderson were called up.

Southgate is expected to take three goalkeepers to Qatar and it’s anyone’s guess which of the three will be left behind when the Three Lions fly to the Middle East.

Having started him in both matches this month, you’d expect Southgate to take Pope.

However, the 30-year-old had an absolute nightmare against the Germans at Wembley on Monday evening.

This has certainly opened the door for the other two to stake a claim to be Southgate’s number two.

Former England defender Pearce has hinted that he thinks Ramsdale is a better goalkeeper than Pope.

The Arsenal shot-stopper’s lack of minutes against Italy or Germany was a “big surprise” to the former West Ham coach.

“The one big surprise for me, I must say, is probably Aaron Ramsdale,” Pearce told talkSPORT. “I thought he might play. I really did.

“Southgate probably deems Nick Pope the second-best choice behind the number one (Jordan Pickford). For me, he’s certainly an incredible shot-stopper. There’s no doubt about that.

“It’s probably the intricacies with the feet that probably has us wiggling on our seats. But he must see Pope as his number two.

“In the line-up of the XI players, this one surprised me, especially with Nick Pope playing the other night against Italy, I thought it would have been a decent opportunity for Ramsdale to get a game.”

With Ramsdale missing out under Southgate, the former Sheffield United ‘keeper will be fresh for Arsenal’s match against Tottenham on Saturday.

The Gunners are currently top of the Premier League table with six wins from their opening seven matches.

Spurs are unbeaten in the league despite looking far from their best this term.

Manchester City are the only other top-flight side without a defeat, with Erling Haaland flying following his summer arrival from Borussia Dortmund.

The Norweigan striker has netted 14 goals in ten matches across all competitions in 2022-23.