Manchester United have been linked with a new deputy for world class goalkeeper David de Gea.
"The Old Trafford club have been monitoring Pickford closely during a loan spell at Bradford City. Pickford, 20, is tipped as a future England keeper and Van Gaal wants a rising star to be groomed for when David de Gea moves on."
Ideally David de Gea will not be going anywhere, but United are wise to make contingency plans should circumstances in five years dictate otherwise.
Current stand-in Anders Lindegaard is not a long-term answer, and Van Gaal was critical of third-choice Ben Amos in pre-season after he let in a long range Miralem Pjanic goal against AS Roma.
The potential signing of Pickford would increase the chances that both Lindegaard and Amos leave the club, rather than pose any imminent impact for De Gea.
He is an England under-19 international but is behind Vito Mannone and Costel Pantilimon in the Sunderland pecking order.