Jordan Pickford is eyeing another clean sheet this weekend and he thinks World Cup holders France “will be worried” about facing England.
The Everton star will earn his 50th cap when he comes up against Kylian Mbappe and co. in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
Pickford has kept three clean sheets in four games so far in Qatar. The only goals he has let in were two late strikes in the 6-2 win over Iran.
He puts his record and impressive form for England down to a fine understanding with a regular backline, Harry Maguire having started 38 of Pickford’s 49 games, with Kyle Walker (34) and John Stones (32) not far behind.
“So for 49 caps now the defence, the team work, ever since I’ve been in the squad has been second to none really,” he said.
“It is huge, clean sheets, especially in tournament football now, are massive.
“That (a clear understanding) is a big part of it. We’ve had the disappointments of the semi-final and the final at the Euros, but we’ve had those experiences together now.
“Me, Harry, Stonesy, Walker, Tripps (Kieran Trippier) – this is our third major tournament together as a backline so it can only put you in good stead.”
Pickford has 24 clean sheets so far for England, putting him some way off Peter Shilton’s record of 66, and he insists he will always toast adding more to the list.
“You have got to celebrate them,” he told ‘The Lions’ Den’ on England’s YouTube channel.
“I enjoy it with the team more. The defenders, you get rewards because the front lads are scary up top.
“So when we’re working hard off the ball and I’m making saves and giving the lads a licence to go and score, we’ve got every chance.
“To be fair to the lads, the front plays are a massive part of it as well, they’re crucial.
“You see their work rate off the ball and the ruthlessness they have up top, they only need one chance to score those goals, so if we keep keeping clean sheets, we know we’re going to score.”
While Pickford and his defenders will be all too aware of the ability of Mbappe, as well as France’s record goal-scorer Olivier Giroud, he believes Gareth Southgate’s men can also strike fear into the opposition.
“They’re reigning champions, got Mbappe and other individuals who are top players, and we know that’s going to be a tough game,” he added.
“But World Cup football, you’ve got to relish these moments and you’ve got to take every chance you get. You might not get another chance to beat France and to beat them in the quarters would be massive for us as a team.
“They’ve got to be worried about our threat as well, not just the starting XI, but look at the depth we have on the bench as well, the lads that come on and make an impact.
“Everyone’s contributing to goals, you’re talking about the defensive record as well. Everyone who comes on is doing the job in defence as well.”
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