Jordan Pickford is a “phenomenal” goalkeeper on course to be England’s No 1, says club-mate Victor Anichebe.
And the Sunderland striker wouldn’t be surprised if some of the top clubs had Pickford in their sights given his superb form this season.
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have long been credited with an interest in the 22-year-old, who got his chance after Vito Mannone was ruled out for two months with an elbow injury.
Pickford’s form resulted in a call-up to the main England squad, with the Washington-born stopper on the bench at Wembley for Friday’s 3-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Scotland. He will stay with England for tomorrow’s Wembley friendly against Spain.
It followed a stunning performance in Sunderland’s maiden win of the Premier League campaign against Bournemouth.
Anichebe – who also starred against the Cherries – has heaped praise on the young stopper.
“Jordan, you can all see is a top young goalkeeper,” Anichebe told the Gazette.
“Some of the saves he makes and his distribution; it is incredible.
“He is probably one of the best young keepers I have seen and I have seen a lot of good, young keepers. John Ruddy, when I was younger.
“He is a phenomenal keeper and if he can keep his feet on the ground, continue to work hard then he will one day become England’s No 1.
“As much as Sunderland fans don’t want me to say this, some of the huge clubs might come in for him.
“But, at the moment, he is here at Sunderland and doing really well for us and he kept us in the game at times against Bournemouth.
“He was unbelievable.
“The centre-backs were immense too. That is how they should be every week and hopefully we can build on this.”
Highly-rated Pickford has a string of admirers and he was scouted by Manchester United in the summer after starring for England Under-21s on their way to winning the Toulon Tournament, as previously reported by the Echo.
Tottenham have also been credited with an interest in Pickford, arguably Sunderland’s biggest asset.
Pickford initially caught the eye in his three appearances for the Black Cats last season after being recalled from his stint on loan at Championship side Preston North End.
Pickford had joined Preston on a season-long loan in the summer of 2015, keeping 13 clean sheets in 27 appearances during the first half of the campaign.
He then featured for Sunderland against Arsenal in the FA Cup and twice in the Premier League away to Tottenham and at Watford, on the final day of last season, before getting an extended run this year.
Mannone is back fit after a two-month lay-off but has a battle on his hands to reclaim his place from Pickford, who signed a new long-term contract until 2020 in January.