Jordan Pickford thinks international duty can help him get even sharper ahead of a defining run of games for Sunderland’s Premier League future.
Pickford is expected to start for England U21s when they take on Germany tonight, before another game against Denmark on Monday.
That precedes a hectic April for Sunderland, who face six Premier League games when they return from another break.
Pickford has been ever-present since returning from a ligament injury at Goodison Park in February, but sees another two games as another beneficial step for his recovery.
He said: “Obviously I’ll go away and get a couple more games under my belt, I haven’t played much since I came back from injury. I feel good and fresh and this is just another chance to get sharper.
“The lads who aren’t going away will be working hard on the training ground to get things right and get those those three points against Watford.”
Pickford is one of a number of Sunderland first-team players likely to feature for their country over the weekend.
John O’Shea is set to return to the Republic of Ireland XI for a crucial qualifier against Wales tonight, with Ciaran Clark and Shane Duffy missing through injury.
O’Shea and Pickford were two members of a back line to land a much-needed clean sheet against Burnley, and the task for Sunderland at Watford next weekend will be to get things right at the other end.
Fabio Borini spurned some priceless opportunities last time out, but Pickford is confident that the Italian is capable of scoring crucial goals.
Pickford said: “Fabio is just that goal away from cracking on and start firing again. He started up front last week, which was his preferred position as a player, and he was unlucky – Tom (Heaton) made a good save.
“We just need to keep going and make sure we convert those chances in the next game.”
Pickford’s first full season has been a testing one for the club, but, despite the latest injuy setbacks, the 23-year-old said it is not difficult for him to remain upbeat.
He said: “No, I’m a positive lad. Everyone around the place is still positive, all the lads are still positive. I’ll never be negative as a player and as a lad.
“Our luck has been out, with Lamine getting injured in training and Jan having a setback. As a group, things like this happen.”