Sunderland goalkeeping star Jordan Pickford backs new-look defence to get it right

Jordan Pickford keeps the ball safe under pressure from Spurs' Eric Dier. Picture by Frank Reid
Jordan Pickford keeps the ball safe under pressure from Spurs' Eric Dier. Picture by Frank Reid
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Frustrated Jordan Pickford has backed Sunderland’s new-look defence to get it right after the club’s poor start to the season continued.

A Harry Kane strike just before the hour mark was enough to secure all three points for Tottenham yesterday, to leave Sunderland second-bottom and still without a win after five games.

England Under-21 international Pickford was outstanding in the Sunderland goal, making countless crucial saves to keep David Moyes’ side in the game.

Steven Pienaar and Jermain Defoe had chances to give Sunderland the lead, but they were under so much pressure defensively and they couldn’t hold out.

Papy Djilobodji was at fault for Kane’s winner, the £8million summer signing failed to control and then clear the ball – to allow the England striker in at the back post to slide the ball past Pickford.

The back-four consisted of Jason Denayer at right-back, Djilobodji and Lamine Kone in the middle and Javier Manquillo at left-back – with Patrick van Aanholt withdrawn after the warm-up for “medical reasons”.

But Pickford – who has impressed since coming into the side in place of the injured Vito Mannone – believes Sunderland will soon get it right defensively.

“We are a new back four and just getting to know each other still,” Washington-born Pickford told the Echo.

“We will get there. There have been changes.

“It starts with working hard in training – which we are doing – we are bonding together and the more we play together the better we will be.

“We will be okay.”

Pickford was the busiest man on the pitch – with Spurs firing a total of 31 shots at his goal, nine were on target, 15 off and the rest blocked.

“It was a frustrating game, we defended for 90 minutes but we had our own couple of chances to get something,” added Pickford.

“We were unfortunate, but at least we kept the score down to one.

“Defending wise, we were better, we were more commanding.

“I thought we defended well and we can take positives from it.

“I was a bit too busy, but maybe if we had scored just before half-time, then it would have been a totally different game.”

Chris Turner was the last Sunderland stopper to keep a clean sheet at White Hart Lane – 36 years ago.

Pickford added: “I’d rather keep a clean sheet and do nothing – those are the best clean sheets to have!

“It is not ideal being too busy, but it is my job to be there and keep the ball out of the back of the net.

“I am only 22, but I feel more mature. I have played lower league when I was younger and the more games I play the better I will become.

“Tottenham are a top quality side. That is why they finished where they were last season.

“We held our own. We could have been stronger in parts but did okay.

“I take positives from the performance, I didn’t get the clean sheet, but they are a top quality side and it was a busy afternoon.

“All we can do now is build on the positive aspects of the performance.”