After an assured performance from Jordan Pickford on Friday night against the Netherlands, Southgate has decided to give Stoke City’s Jack Butland his chance stake his claim for the number 1 shirt at this summer’s World Cup in Tuesday nights friendly against Italy.
Having named four goalkeepers in his squad for the double header of friendly matches, Southgate has decided to again overlook Joe Hart in the second game and it sounds like it was a decision that was made at the start of the international break.
“At the beginning of the week we decided to give (Pickford and Butland) a game for the experience.”
“We’ve stuck with the plan right the way through with those decisions and there’s no reason to come away from that.”
It’s interesting to hear that the purpose in Southgate’s own words was to give both keepers a ‘game for experience’ which suggests that he feels both may not be experienced enough for the tournament quite yet.
It will be interesting to see how England set up with Butland between the sticks, particularly to see if they continue to push their expansive football – focused on playing out from the back.
Whilst Hart hasn’t been involved in the matches, he’s clearly been fulfilling his role within the team and impressing Hart on the training pitch as an experienced member of the squad – which some believe could be his role in the summer.
“Joe’s professionalism has been brilliant with us. He’s always performed well for us. We had the best defensive record in Europe in qualifying.
“This week, even though he knew he wasn’t going to be involved in the games, he’s been a positive influence on the other players.”
With Pope missing out on a start in either of the friendly matches it looks like it will be Butland, Hart and Pickford who are in pole position to make it to the World Cup this summer.