Jordan Pickford continues to pick up plaudits with former England stopper Chris Kirkland backing him to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
The pair worked together at Preston North End during Pickford’s loan spell in the North West last season and Kirkland admits he would be amazed if the Washington-born keeper is still on Wearside next summer.
Kirkland has also revealed that he was so impressed with the 22-year-old – who he believes Europe’s top clubs will be scouting - that he encouraged Liverpool to sign him last summer.
Pickford remained at Sunderland and has since gone onto become the club’s No 1 after starring in goal since Vito Mannone picked up an elbow injury.
Pickford, who has been drafted into the main England squad this season, picked the ball out of the net three times at Swansea City on Saturday but he still emerged from the game with praise after a number of smart saves.
Speaking on BTSportScore, Kirkland said: “For me, he could be one of the best in the world – he is the best I have worked with, that’s for sure.
“He would make saves like that all of the time at Preston. I think he has made the second most saves in the Premier League this season.
“It is really up to him how far he goes, because he has the whole package.”
Pickford is a wanted man, with both Liverpool and Spurs among a growing number of clubs credited with an interest in him.
Kirkland believes it is only a matter of time before Pickford leaves the club.
When asked if he expects Pickford to still be at the club after next Summer, Kirkland added: “Absolutely not.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he is not there come January.
“I told Liverpool to sign him last summer. He will have all of the top clubs looking at him - not just in England, but in Europe as well.
“He definitely won’t be there next summer.”
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 before being recalled early.
He signed a new long-term contract in January which ties him to Sunderland til 2020.