We're running out of superlatives for Jordan Pickford '“ can Sunderland keep him?
It's getting to a point where we're just running out of superlatives to throw at Jordan Pickford.
The youngster has, rightfully, picked up a lot of praise for his performances in recent weeks and has been a shining light even in Sunderland’s darkest times this season.
And it’s not only on the pitch his influence is being felt. The relationship he seems to be cultivating with the fans bears resemblance to that of many a previous Sunderland cult hero.
His display at Swansea, despite shipping three goals, was again inspired and it certainly could have been a far heavier defeat were it not for the stopper.
Two superb second half saves – first a low tip around the post from Mo Barrow’s shot and then an acrobatic one-handed stop to deny Jordi Amat - helped to further emphasise the important role he’s playing in the Sunderland side this season.
After a fairly quiet afternoon against Leicester in Sunderland’s last outing, Saturday’s trip to South Wales was likely a stark reminder to Pickford of the responsibility he carries in the side.
Aged only 22, he’s found himself thrown into a scenario where Sunderland need points - many more experienced goalkeepers have crumbled in his position.
Yet it seems to be a situation Pickford is relishing and, while results are at times going against the Black Cats, he continues to impress on a personal level.
And it’s not only defensively that the youngster contributes - his distribution played a key part in creating one of Sunderland’s best chances at The Liberty Stadium as he picked out Victor Anichebe with a precise ping and the powerful forward was able to kick-start a counter attack.
The rapport Pickford seems to have built up with the fans is extraordinary – you only have to look at his fist-pumping celebration with them after he denied Wes Morgan late on in the victory over Leicester City.
In an era where players’ loyalty to their club is often questioned, especially at the highest levels, no such accusations can be levied at Pickford who is clearly proud to play for his local side.
But he will still be ambitious and will want to advance his own career – so can Sunderland keep hold of him?
In the last week alone the stopper has been linked with Tottenham Hotspur, and it’s no surprise Pickford is attracting such interest given his phenomenal form, and if he keeps it up the rumours will only intensify.
With the stopper contracted until 2020 there is certainly no rush for the Black Cats to sell, but if their resolve was tested in January would they be tempted to cash-in on him?
David Moyes, and the fans, will hope the answer is no.
Pickford has been key so far and will continue to be so as Sunderland look to claw their way away from the foot of the table. And who knows, if his fine personal performances continue then he might find himself in contention for a senior international call-up come the New Year.
With England not in action again until March that certainly gives the stopper some more time to impress Gareth Southgate. And it gives us a chance to think of some more superlatives to describe Sunderland’s brightest young prospect.