Jordan Pickford’s clean sheet joy – now he challenges strikers to do their bit

Jordan Pickford pulls off another save against Burnley
Jordan Pickford pulls off another save against Burnley

Jordan Pickford remained upbeat over Sunderland’s Premier League plight – focusing on the positives of the draw against Burnley.

The Black Cats’ failure to find the net saw the gap to 17th climb to an intimidating seven points, but they did register a first clean sheet since the beginning of February.

Pickford was in typically excellent shot-stopping form, drawing praise from Sean Dyche for a late save from Sam Vokes that kept the scores level.

The 23-year-old had praise for his opposite number Tom Heaton, currently ahead of him in the England pecking order and himself making a fine save from Adnan Januzaj, but also for the way his team-mates protected him.

Pickford said: “We had a few good chances missed but on the plus side, at least we’re creating those chances. We couldn’t convert them but we’ve got to keep strong and keep believing in ourselves.

“We’ve got to weather the storm sometimes as a team, we knew their work ethic, they’re just going to keep coming and coming, they’re never going to back off.

“At least we kept the goals to zero and got the clean sheet. The defending started from the front, with Fabio and Jermain closing down and working hard to get the ball back. We managed to do that as a unit and it is just about getting the goals now.”

Sunderland’s task in avoiding the drop has been much tougher by another set of wins for the teams above them in the table.

Swansea, Hull and Middlesbrough were all beaten but wins for Crystal Palace and Leicester City have left the Black Cats fighting to stay afloat.

Pickford is eager not to pay too much attention to those results and is cofident his side are close to a run of form themselves.

The stopper now heads off for U21 duty but when he returns his side face three crucial games in a week against Watford, Leicester City and Manchester United.

He said: “It was nice to get a clean sheet, hopefully in the next couple of games after the international break we can put two and two together and get the clean sheet and the win. We just to keep working hard on the training ground.

“We’re just that little fraction away from getting the results that we need, we’ve got to just concentrate on ourselves, not look too much at the table, just keep working hard and it will click.”