Jordan Pickford is relishing life in the Championship during his loan spell at Preston North End - and he is already breaking records.
The 21-year-old stopper recorded his third successive clean sheet in their midweek win at Rotherham United - subsequently becoming the first Preston goalkeeper to keep three cleans sheets in the first three league games of the season since the league started in 1888.
Pickford joined newly-promoted Preston on a season-long loan from the Black Cats a week before the new campaign kicked off and he couldn’t have asked for a better start to his career with the Lilywhites.
Clean sheets against Middlesbrough, MK Dons and now Rotherham have quickly cemented his place as an early fans favourite, with Washington-born Pickford conceding just one goal so far, against Crewe Alexandra in the Capital One Cup.
Reflecting on life in the North West, Pickford said: “It’s good. Everything is going well.
“I’ve settled in well with the lads.
“The Rotherham game was my fifth game for the club – I had one in pre-season as well, which helped me massively.
“Now it is really good for me that we are getting results.
“It’s a bit different – I’ve not really played in a 3-5-2 formation too often in the past.
“It’s something I need to learn about. I need to learn about different shapes around me.
“I need to keep commanding my area and talking to them.
“I feel like it is something that I have been doing since coming to the club.”
The young shot-stopper’s eagerness to command his area, coming for every cross into the box, has impressed the Preston faithful.
Pickford, speaking to the Lancashire Evening Post, said: “Obviously keepers have to be brave.
“But that is just in my nature since I was very young.
“It’s something I like to do. If I can come out and get the ball, then that is what I will do.
“It’s a very important part of the job,” added Pickford, who has enjoyed working closely with goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly.
Pickford had been training with Sunderland’s first-team squad throughout pre-season after the highly-rated youngster spent last season with Bradford City.
Sunderland had been contemplating whether to promote Pickford to back-up stopper behind first-choice Costel Pantilimon and offload Vito Mannone, or send the England Under-20 international back out on loan to broaden his competitive experience.
The opportunity for Pickford to play regularly in the Championship proved too good to turn down.