(Written by Callum Owen for CW2)
With the delayed European Championship fast approaching, discussions as to who will make up the squads are in full flow. One of the most debated positions within the England squad surrounds who will be wearing the number one shirt.
There are three main contenders, excluding Newcastle ‘keeper Karl Darlow. These three are Nick Pope of Burnley, Everton’s Jordan Pickford, and Manchester United’s Dean Henderson.
So, who should be between the sticks when England start the tournament against Croatia?
Pope has had an impressive season for Burnley and has emerged as the number one contender to displace Pickford.
The shot-stopper has so far made four England appearances, with four clean sheets in the process
Pope has played a total of 2,540 minutes for the Clarets across 28 appearances (27 Premier League + 1 EFL cup), in which time he has recorded 9 clean sheets.
Across these 28 games, Pope has conceded 32 goals, averaging 1.1 goals conceded a game in a Burnley side who sit 15th in the league and not yet out of danger in the Premier League.
Overall Pope has made an average of 3.6 saves per game, winning six man of the match awards, putting himself in a prime spot for a starting berth this summer.
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Southgate’s preferred number one has had an up and down season as he looks to retain his number one spot this summer.
Since making his England debut in 2017, Pickford has made 27 appearances, keeping 13 clean sheets.
Pickford has played 2160 minutes across 24 appearances for Everton this campaign (22 Premier League + 2 EFL cup), as he briefly lost his place to Everton Back-up Robin Olsen.
During these 24 games, Pickford has conceded 30 goals, keeping 6 clean sheets, for an average of 1.2 goals conceded per game as Everton push on towards a possible European spot in the Premier League.
Thus far, Pickford has made an average of 3.1 saves per game as he looks to hold on to hs number one shirt for his second England tournament.
Dean Henderson is the outside shot in this argument.
For much of the 2020/21 campaign he has featured as second fiddle to Manchester United Number one David De Gea.
So far Henderson has only made a singular England appearance, playing the second half of a 3-0 home win against the Republic of Ireland in November.
This season Henderson has played 1,424 minutes across 16 appearances (five Premier League, three EFL cup, three Europa League, three FA Cup and one Champions League), in which he has conceded 10 goals and kept 10 clean sheets.
As a result, Henderson has conceded 0.63 goals per game on average, a stat that is slightly disproportionate to his competition due to his lack of game time.
On average Henderson has made 4.2 saves per game as he pushes for the number one shirt for both England and Manchester United. However, in order to get that shirt for England, it is key that he features more for Manchester United.
So who starts?
The battle will be between Nick Pope and Jordan Pickford.
Based on the stats, Nick Pope should be England’s number one this summer.
He has been strong for Burnley this season, who without Pope would likely be in more of a relegation battle than they already are.
The question now is whether or not Gareth Southgate will put his faith in the man he has capped only four times before.
Pickford still has a good chance, he has found his way back into Everton side and has regained some form. Additionally, Southgate has favoured Pickford before – notably at the 2018 World cup – which will undoubtable help Pickford’s case.
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