March 30, 2018 / 12:31 PM / 24 days ago

Soccer: Pickford can be England's World Cup keeper - Allardyce

(Reuters) - Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s display for England in the friendly against the Netherlands last week has boosted his chances of becoming the country’s first-choice at the World Cup, manager Sam Allardyce said on Friday.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Everton vs Crystal Palace - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - February 10, 2018 Crystal Palace's Luka Milivojevic scores their first goal from the penalty spot past Everton's Jordan Pickford REUTERS/Peter Powell/Files

Pickford impressed with his distribution in the 1-0 win and although Joe Hart remains the national team’s most experienced option, Allardyce said his player was more than ready to take over the responsibility.

“He’s given Gareth a lot to think about with his performance the other night,” Allardyce told reporters.

“I know people have gone on about him conceding goals for Everton this season but that’s not the stat you look at as a goalkeeper, you look at the sort of saves he makes... he’s always there when needed.

“He’s been extremely busy - far too busy on some occasions - and we’ve managed to quell that lately... that helps the goalkeeper,” he added.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Watford vs Everton - Vicarage Road, Watford, Britain - February 24, 2018 Everton's Jordan Pickford Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge/Files

Pickford has made 103 saves in 31 games - behind only Swansea City’s Lukasz Fabianski (106) and fellow England keeper Jack Butland (112) - although the Merseyside club have conceded 50 goals this season.

The 24-year-old could face another busy evening at Goodison Park on Saturday with the visit of Premier League champions-elect Manchester City, who have scored a league-high 85 goals in the campaign.

Pep Guardiola’s side needed an 82nd-minute equaliser in the reverse fixture this season and Allardyce said ninth-placed Everton had to approach the game with a positive attitude.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Stoke City vs Everton - bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, Britain - March 17, 2018 Everton manager Sam Allardyce applauds fans after the match Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes/Files

“We have to say we can challenge them and play against them. You can get a result but we’ll have to play our best,” he added.

Idrissa Gueye will be assessed after picking up a hamstring injury in the 2-1 win over Stoke City this month and fellow midfielder Tom Davies is fit after recovering from a neck injury.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond

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