England's goalkeeper options - ranked

18 July 2020 01:58

Had we lived in a world without coronavirus, Jordan Pickford would likely have been lining up for England at the European Championships in June 2020, no questions asked.

Instead, he was clawing Daniel Podence's tame shot off his line after it had wriggled through his clutches during Everton's 3-0 defeat to Wolves in the Premier League. Although the diminutive winger's effort was kept out, it was one of a number of hair-raising, edge of your seat moments that Pickford produced in that campaign - and the fun, unfortunately, hasn't stopped during 2020/21.

Because of that, Pickford's position as top dog is under threat - with some real top quality keepers now knocking firmly on Gareth Southgate's door. So who are the candidates to be England number one and how do they shape up heading into a busy summer of fun?

Here's 90min's totally accurate ranking.


11. Joe Hart

Joe Hart's dropped off a cliff | Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images

Basically, we're just reminding you of the fact that Joe Hart picked up 75 England caps between 2008 and 2017, before his career suddenly nose dived down the toilet.

Now, he can mainly be found on Instagram, congratulating current club Tottenham on their various misfortunes.

10. Ben Foster

Foster has long been out of the equation | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

All-round nice guy Ben Foster initially retired from international football in 2011, was persuaded to come back ahead of the 2014 World Cup and hasn't been seen since.

Relegation with Watford was an obvious low point, but Foster was the Hornets' stand out performer during 2019/20 - making a number of important saves as the shots rained down on him.

As the old saying goes, never say never - but given he's no longer a regular between the sticks at Vicarage Road, and the fact he's approaching 40, probably fair to say it's game over.

9. Fraser Forster

Forster's stock was exceptionally high at one point | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Forster's performances for Celtic and Southampton saw him earn six England caps between 2013 and 2016, and he was once touted as a long-term number one.

Needless to say, that didn't happen.

He did rediscover his form back at Celtic Park in 2019, but a trip back to bench fodder on the south coast of England has all but ended any hopes of an international comeback.

8. Aaron Ramsdale

It's England Under-21 duty for Ramsdale | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

There is every chance that Aaron Ramsdale will eventually earn a call-up to the senior England squad.

But, for now, the former Bournemouth stopper needs to worry himself with the fact that he's heading for back-to-back Premier League relegations, as well as the Under-21 European Championship - where he's a shoo-in to represent the Three Lions.

A decent keeper, but has got to improve his consistency to get a gig with the big boys.

7. Alex McCarthy

McCarthy won a sole England cap in 2018 | Alex Morton/Getty Images

After sitting on the bench at Southampton watching Angus Gunn concede nine times at Leicester, McCarthy came into the side and looked pretty secure in the St Mary's goal.

An excellent shot-stopper, he's more often than not in the right place at the right time, and he certainly gets plenty of practice keeping strikes at goal out.

McCarthy's issue is his distribution and tendency to make a blunder - something that doesn't really resonate with Gareth Southgate's desire to play out from the back.

6. Tom Heaton

Injury has derailed Heaton's career | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Aston Villa were dealt a huge blow during 2019/20 when Tom Heaton was struck down with a serious injury.

That's about the only blot on the copybook of the former Burnley goalkeeper, as there's few areas of his game that give you concern. Heaton would almost certainly have made the squad had he stayed fit, but now he's unable to get a game because of the form of Emiliano Martinez.

A safe pair of hands, he's ready to go in an emergency.

5. Karl Darlow

Darlow could switch allegiance to Wales, should he wish to | Pool/Getty Images

Newcastle's trials and tribulations have been well documented for a number of years, but one area where they've pretty well stocked has been in the goalkeeping department.

Martin Dubravka was a surprise success story when he rocked up at St James' Park, and that often meant Karl Darlow - once of Nottingham Forest fame - was forced to watch on.

But after coming into the side, Darlow showed just how good he can be - single-handedly keeping the troubled Magpies in a number of games with some outstanding saves.

Also eligible for Wales, he's unlikely to get the nod - particularly now he's been ostracised for making one mistake in the Toon goal.

4. Sam Johnstone

Johnstone has had a terrific individual 2020/21 | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Had David de Gea not been thing at Manchester United, there's every chance that we could be talking about Sam Johnstone as the Red Devils' number one right now.

A talented stopper who came through the Old Trafford ranks, he had to make his way in the game through a succession of lower league loan spells.

Aston Villa was where he caught the eye, but it's a permanent switch to West Brom that has allowed Johnstone to flourish. Consistent, calm and decent with his feet, he's an outside bet for the England plane.

3. Jordan Pickford

Pickford's errors have caught up with him | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Although the Everton goalkeeper has endured a patchy couple of years, when it comes to form in an England shirt - on the biggest occasions - he is the most tried and tested option at the Three Lions' disposal.

Pickford is also an accomplished penalty saver, and has the confidence and swagger (maybe bordering on arrogance) that is required for the intense, high-octane environment of major tournament football.

His distribution is superior to any of his rivals for the number one jersey, with his successful long pass completion and overall pass completion considerably higher than any other English goalkeepers in the Premier League.

However, the consistency and dependability that are a necessity for a goalkeeper have wavered, and crass, sloppy errors have crept into Pickford's game. In a major tournament where the margins are so fine and one mistake can send you home, England can't afford for that to happen.

2. Dean Henderson

Henderson is pushing to become Man Utd's number one | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Although Henderson is only young, hasn't 'been there and done it' on the international stage and has only one full season of Premier League football under his belt, he possesses a similarly commanding aura to that of Pickford.

Come Euro 2020 (+1), Henderson will be the same age Pickford was at the 2018 World Cup and kept the joint-third highest number of clean sheets in the Premier League during 2019/20 - with only Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United conceding fewer goals than Sheffield United.

It was against Liverpool where Henderson had his one moment to forget, allowing Gini Wijnaldum’s winner to squirm through his arms, but that is the only blot on his copybook - paling into insignificance when compared to Pickford's errors.

The only thing is he's yet to oust De Gea as United's regular number one, but he's giving it a bloody good go.

1. Nick Pope

Pope should be considered frontrunner as it stands | Pool/Getty Images

When it comes to dependability, few can compete with Nick Pope. The Burnley stopper has been a model of consistency for the Clarets, and has particularly caught the eye over the past two years.

Pope kept the second highest number of clean sheets during 2019/20, narrowly missing out on the Golden Glove, and is arguably the best shot-stopping option England have.

His ability to dictate from the back is also not quite as accomplished as Pickford, but he epitomises the graft and determination that Southgate values - having climbed from non-League football to the Premier League in the space of five years.

Furthermore, he's yet to make an error leading to a goal (at the time of writing) and when it comes to calmness and reliability, you would always put your faith in the Burnley number one.


Source: 90min