Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has been called into England’s senior setup for the first time after Tom Heaton left camp with a “minor injury.”
The Black Cats are currently propping up the bottom of the Premier League table, but little blame can be laid on Pickford, 22, who’s proven himself to be a consummate shot-stopper and promising prospect. He has nine Under-21 caps to his name.
Heaton, meanwhile, returns to Burnley for further assessment on the undisclosed issue, with his club boss Sean Dyche undoubtedly sweating over his availability for next Sunday’s tricky trip to Southampton.
England interim manager Gareth Southgate has been contending with several enforced changes to his first squad. Raheem Sterling, Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka, Ryan Bertrand, and now Heaton have all stepped away from contention ahead of Tuesday’s latest World Cup qualification bout in Slovenia.
Southgate oversaw an underwhelming 2-0 defeat of Malta during his first match in charge, thanks to goals from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli.
It would take superhuman heroics between the sticks at Tottenham Hotspur’s Enfield base to spring Pickford ahead of Joe Hart and Fraser Forster in the pecking order, but his selection does provide valuable experience for potential future international consideration.
Here’s Southgate’s 22-man squad for the Ljubljana test: