Why Sunderland must stick with Jordan Pickford as their number one for the time being

Sunderland's Jordan Pickford saves from Everton's Romelu Lukaku

Pickford has been Sunderland's goalkeeper in the absence of Vito Mannone, but now competition has increased a little with Vito Mannone returning from injury.

With Vito Mannone returning to action for Sunderland's under-23's last week, the competition to start in goal for the Black Cats has stepped up a little. 

In the Italian's absence, Jordan Pickford has performed commendably. The only real blot on his copybook was a mistake that led to a Southampton equaliser on his first league appearance of the season, but his form has otherwise been excellent - and has seen him recognised at international level, having been called up to the England senior squad.

Sunderland's Vito Mannone warms up before the gameSunderland's Vito Mannone warms up before the game

Last week, Mannone sent out a message that he was determined to reclaim his place in the side, and was quoted in the Sunderland Echo, saying: "For me, I left the pitch when I was No 1 and I am still No 1 in my mind."

It was unfortunate that Mannone suffered an elbow injury early on in the season, but it's hard to see how he justifies his place ahead of Pickford in the side at the moment. 

The 22-year-old has grown in stature as the season has gone by. While things have been far from perfect at the back for the Black Cats this season, Pickford has been one positive. His latest display during the 2-1 win at Bournemouth not only saw him make a string of fine saves, but there seemed to signs of an understanding between him and his back four that has developed.

Sunderland's Jordan Pickford saves a shot from Bournemouth's Junior StanislasSunderland's Jordan Pickford saves a shot from Bournemouth's Junior Stanislas

Granted, there is work for them to do as they have not kept a clean sheet this season, but removing Pickford now could set back any good work they have done - and given the side need all the points they can get at the moment, one would suggest that such a move isn't so wise. 

What is about to follow for David Moyes is a test of the Sunderland boss in terms of his man management. Mannone was the regular number one, and he may have to ask on him to be patient. Though Sunderland are not in cup competitions at the moment, there are plenty of fixtures that are not so far away which could justify a change - over the festive period and when the FA Cup gets underway in January.

If he removed Pickford from the side after performing pretty well, what kind of message would that send? It's welcome for Moyes that he has fierce competition in goal but will he state one keeper is his number one for now? That's a matter for the manager entirely, but then both keepers would know where they stand. 

Sunderland manager David Moyes before the gameSunderland manager David Moyes before the game

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