Vito Mannone set the cat among the pigeons last week when he announced he believed he was still Sunderland’s No 1 goalkeeper – despite the form of Jordan Pickford.
Italian ace Mannone had started the season as David Moyes’ first choice shot-stopper, only to then be ruled out for more than two months with an elbow injury.
In his absence, youngster Pickford has stepped up and produced a string of great performances, including some sensational saves in the 2-1 win over Bournemouth in Sunderland’s last game, whne they picked up their first league win of the season.
It earned the Washington-born star a call-up to the England squad, but while he was away last week Mannone made his comeback in the Checkatrade Trophy clash against Notts County.
Now Moyes has a choice to make between which of the goalkeepers to play between the posts on Saturday against Hull City.
Will Pickford keep his place? Here are five reasons why Moyes persist with the England Under-21 international.
Moyes has continuously changed his Sunderland side this campaign, making it hard for players to develop a relationship with their team-mates.
Pickford was in fine form on the South Coast with the Black Cats looking better defensively. The defence will feel at ease knowing Pickford is in sensational form. A change in between the sticks now could prove costly for Moyes and Sunderland.
2. Communication is key
Sunderland’s communication has proved to be an issue – especially in the heart of defence. Despite the poor defending, Pickford has showcased his talent and also demonstrated he has the ability to become a leader. The Washington born is a key member to Sunderland’s struggling defence with his presence, communication and leadership skills.
3. Fan power
With the form Pickford is in, dropping the England Under-21 international is asking for trouble.
And due to the Black Cats woeful start, Moyes has already come under heavy scrutiny. If the former Manchester United manager was to select Mannone ahead of local boy Pickford, some fans may let their feelings clear at the crunch game with Hull.
4. Man in demand
The form of Pickford hasn’t gone unnoticed so it is vital Moyes gives him the respect he deserves.
The likes of Manchester United and Spurs have been linked with the youngster and if he is dropped it could attract the big boys and they may lure him away from the Stadium of Light.
5. Don’t change a winning team
Sunderland earned their first win at Bournemouth on Saturday with Pickford impressing, particularly with a stunning save in the latter stages to deny Josh King.
Changing a winning team is always a dangerous game – and if Sunderland were to lose against Hull on Wearside they would be eight points behind the newly-promoted side.