Burnley skipper Tom Heaton believes Three Lions colleague Jordan Pickford is part of one of the strongest crops of shot-stoppers the country has been able to call on in recent years.
The 22-year-old was drafted into Gareth Southgate’s squad in November for the games with Scotland and Spain, with Heaton playing the second half against the 2010 World Cup winners.
And with established squad members Joe Hart, Fraser Forster and Jack Butland – as well as the likes of Ben Foster potentially available, Heaton said: “I remember reading something a few years ago, probably about 10 years ago now, having a bit of a moan saying there weren’t many top English goalkeepers coming through, and I think at this moment in time, there are certainly a fair few.
“I think it’s as good as it’s been for a long time.
“Jordan obviously came on the previous England trip and I got on really well with him.
“He’s a really good lad and a top goalkeeper, so I look forward to seeing him, and hopefully we can stick a few past him!”
The young Englishman will miss the New Year’s Eve clash for the Black Cats, with a knee injury picked up against Manchester United reportedly ruling him out of action for six weeks, However, Heaton is focused on what Burnley do, as they look to maintain a remarkable home record, which has seen them pick up 19 of their 20 poimnts so far this season at Turf Moor: “We know it’s another big one against another team in and around us at this moment in time, but we’re at home again, and no matter who we play, we’ve been excellent so far and hopefully we can carry that on with a bit of momentum from Boxing Day.
“We’d probably have taken 20 points at this stage, I think, we have been outstanding at home, but the important thing is not to rely on that. I’ve spoken about it before, it’s important we start picking up points away from home, and maintain what we’re doing here, and improve, and see where it takes us.”
And the skipper believes the crowd can play a big part as well: “There was a little bit of a lull after 86/87 minutes against Boro, and all of a sudden there was a roar from the crowd, getting right behind us, and it can see you over the line. It was a big moment, and it can be a massive factor.”