Debutant Jordan Pickford: I want to be Sunderland number one

Jordan Pickford. Picture by FRANK REID
Jordan Pickford. Picture by FRANK REID
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Jordan Pickford wants to fight for his place at Sunderland, rather than heading out on loan again, after the “proudest moment of his life”.

Boyhood Sunderland fan Pickford fulfilled his lifelong dream in Saturday’s FA Cup third round defeat at Arsenal after making his debut for the club he first joined as an eight-year-old.

It was the proudest moment of my life for myself, my family and everyone who has helped me come through

Jordan Pickford

Sam Allardyce has confirmed that Vito Mannone will return in goal for Wednesday night’s crucial Premier League relegation clash away to fellow strugglers Swansea City, despite Pickford’s highly competent bow in a red and white shirt at the Emirates Stadium.

But Allardyce wants Pickford to put the pressure on fellow keepers Mannone and Costel Pantilimon for a starting spot – one of whom could leave the club before the end of the January transfer window.

Pickford hopes he can rise to that challenge, with the England Under-21 international not interested in heading out on loan again after spending the first half of the season at Championship club Preston.

The 21-year-old told the Echo: “The manager wanted to see me in a game and how I dealt with the pressure.

“I thought I did that well and I’ve just got to keep training day-in, day-out, and see what happens.

“I’ve got to wait for my chance and maybe be a little bit patient and when I’m called upon, grab it with both hands and hopefully don’t look back.

“The last thing I want to do now is go back out on loan.

“As a fan and a player, I want to be in the side and be number one, but I’ve got to be patient and try to put pressure on.”

Pickford – who received a rousing reception from the away end throughout – certainly didn’t look out of place in Sunderland’s second 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in the space of a month.

He made several smart saves, with little he could do about the three goals, as cup holders Arsenal recovered from going behind to Jeremain Lens’ strike to advance to the fourth round of the competition.

“The result wasn’t the best, but, from a personal point of view, it was the proudest moment of my life for myself, my family and everyone who has helped me come through – the coaches when I was younger,” said Pickford.

“Arsenal are a good side and when they turn it on like that, you can’t do much.

“I thought I made a couple of saves and my all-round game was alright, considering I conceded three.

“I just treated it as another game really.

“I’ve played a lot of games in the lower leagues and the Championship with Preston, so I’m getting older and maturing every time I play.

“I was able to deal with the nerves well.

“The supporters were great. It was a nice touch when they were singing my name.

“Obviously when I was younger, I was coming to the away games like them.

“It was nice. It’s been my dream to play for Sunderland in front of those fans.

“Hopefully I get the chance to run out at the Stadium of Light one day.”