How Joe Hart helped Jordan Pickford become Sunderland's best player

Torino's Joe Hart in action

Jordan Pickford has been a shining light in a miserable season for Sunderland, but Joe Hart could have made things a whole lot different.

Torino's Joe Hart in actionTorino's Joe Hart in action

In a frankly dire season for Sunderland one of the few positive aspects has been the performances and progression of goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Initially brought into the starting XI for the third Premier League game of the season following an elbow injury to Vito Mannone, Pickford quickly established himself as the preferred choice and with the Black Cats now relegated, several top English sides are said to be battling for the 23-year-old's signature.

Yet it all could have been so different and the young English stopper - billed as a future star for the Three Lions - has current number one Joe Hart to thank, partly, for his rise through the ranks.

That is because as Hart revealed in December, he could actually have joined Sunderland last summer after being deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester City by incoming manager Pep Guardiola.

The 30-year-old was responding to comments from David Moyes that he had turned down the chance to sign the England international.

Sunderland manager David MoyesSunderland manager David Moyes

"Whatever makes him [Moyes] feel better, he can say," Hart was quoted by the Chronicle.

"There were a couple of other things. But it was more the clubs, not necessarily the team itself, so I had to be careful where I put my eggs.

"This one [Torino] appealed the most."

Of course even if Hart had arrived at the Stadium Of Light, there is no reason to say Pickford's talent would still not have shone through and he would become the established choice between the sticks. Although it would certainly have been a lot harder.

Sunderland's Jordan PickfordSunderland's Jordan Pickford

As it is, Hart has endured a difficult season on-loan in Serie A, conceding 57 league goals in 34 matches during his time with Torino.

Pickford, meanwhile, has been linked by the Daily Star with becoming the new first choice stopper at Hart's parent club City. Funny how things work out.

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