bet365 have priced up Jordan Pickford at 1/3 to start England’s first World Cup game against Iran in Qatar.
(This article was originally published on 08.06.2022)
Manager Gareth Southgate doesn’t seem keen on making too many tweaks to his side throughout the summer Nations League games, though it remains to be seen whether either Nick Pope or Aaron Ramsdale will feature against Italy or Hungary in the coming week.
There was a chink shown in Pickford’s armour against Germany, where he’ll have been disappointed to be beaten by Jonas Hoffman, and it may give Southgate the excuse to rotate his number one.
However, despite not always being at his best for Everton, Southgate appears to have plenty of faith in the former Sunderland stopper.
Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale was 9/4 back in November after a string of excellent performances which turned doubters – of which there were many after he was signed from the relegated Sheffield United – into believers.
Eye-catching performances against Brighton, Newcastle and most memorably Leicester, earned him a call-up to the England squad.
But England have four Nations League fixtures between now and the end of September, and the lack of friendlies means less opportunity for Southgate to rotate and give Ramsdale a chance, which may prove to be his biggest stumbling block; his cursory England cap awarded against San Marino, where he was unsurprisingly peripheral.
Ramsdale, now 3/1 to start against Iran, may also need to recover his form at club level to re-enter the fold. Despite his strong start for Arsenal, his numbers dipped alarmingly towards the end of the campaign, with only Emi Martinez and Illan Meslier posting a worse post-shot xGA over the course of the season at -4.6.
Pope, meanwhile, was only bettered by Jose Sa and David de Gea, at +4.4. The Burnley stopper earned a recall for the friendly against Ivory Coast, keeping a clean sheet – making it eight appearances in an England shirt without conceding.
Championship football would certainly be a hindrance to Pope’s chances, but with Brice Samba informing Nottingham Forest of his intention to leave this summer, Pope’s pathway back to the Premier League may open up, and he's 20/1.
Dean Henderson is another keeper running out of time to impress Southgate. His almost total absence from the Manchester United side this season has seen him omitted from the Three Lions squad, and speculations continues about a move away from Old Trafford, something he’ll likely be keen to do in order to reappear on Southgate’s radar over the next few months, but at 33/1, he’s got plenty to do.
Sam Johnstone is another potential option for Southgate, but like Pope, would be hamstrung by not playing in the Premier League.
Following West Brom’s return to the top flight in 2020, Johnstone impressed sufficiently to earn three England caps, but hasn’t been seen since their relegation at the end of the 2020/21 season. A rumoured move to Crystal Palace, however, could potential see him stake a claim for a place on the plane to Qatar in five months’ time, and he's 33/1 to start against Iran.