Southgate praises Jordan Pickford after impressive Under-21 performances

The goalkeeper has kept two clean sheets in his first two Under-21 caps, coming in a week when he was linked with Tottenham and Aston Villa.

England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate has praised Sunderland goalkeeper and Preston loanee Jordan Pickford after he helped the Three Lions side to a second successive win against Norway on Monday night.

The 21-year-old has long been an exciting goalkeeper at the Stadium of Light, featuring prominently for the England youth teams at every level since Under-16s, and has in the last few days been linked with moves to Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa by the Chronicle, with Costel Pantilimon and Vito Mannone ahead of him at the Black Cats.

“I thought Norway were very good tonight,” Southgate told the after the match, which finished 1-0 after James Ward-Prowse's penalty.

“They used the ball very well in midfield and we didn’t always come to terms with that, and they tested our goalkeeper [Jordan Pickford] quite a bit but he stood up to that challenge which was pleasing.

“For a lot of the boys it’s their first qualifier, so they’ll get a better understanding of international football and controlling games.”

Pickford has managed to get plenty of football under his belt in the last few years as well, taking in five loan spells up the divisions before he headed out to Preston North End this season after they secured their return to the Championship.

Not only has he impressed in the Lilywhites opening few matches, but Pickford has also claimed the vacant Under-21 shirt between the sticks for Southgate's side given Jack Butland's promotion  back to the Roy Hodgson's senior side.

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