Jordan Pickford has insisted to the Chronicle that he is ready for a starting role at Sunderland next season.
Pickford is regarded as one of the brightest youngsters at Sunderland, and he has already caught the eye of manager Sam Allardyce.
One of the first actions that Allardyce took after taking over at the Stadium of Light was to recall Pickford from his loan spell at Preston North End and place him in the Black Cats’ first-team.
Pickford made two senior appearances for Sunderland, and he impressed so much that Allardyce opted to sell senior stopper Costel Pantilimon in the January transfer window.
However, Vito Mannone remained as the Wearsiders’ first-choice stopper towards the end of the campaign, leaving Pickford in the background.
The 22-year-old admits that he is willing to bide his time for a chance, but he is also convinced that he is ready to be handed a shot.
“Next season is a big chance because I feel like I am ready to make that step to playing in the side. It’s whoever the gaffer calls upon," he said.
“I just have to keep working hard in training. If he picks me he picks me. I will be patient and be ready for that step.
“The gaffer’s words are that if you are good enough you’re old enough. I have played a lot of games since I was young, so I am ready.
“It was a shame we didn’t get the three points to end the season but it was nice to get another Premier League game under my belt.
“I don’t feel nerves, I feel strong. I have crossed all the leagues on loan and I am ready for the big step. I want to do the best each game and get better and better, that’s what I feel is happening too. I wanted another game before I go away and I got it.”
Pickford was handed an opportunity to impress in Sunderland’s last game of the season against Watford, and he once again looked comfortable in a 2-2 draw.
Mannone, though, has drawn praise for his performances as Sunderland have avoided the drop this season and Pickford will have a challenge to dislodge the Italian from between the sticks.