England's Goalkeeping Options Ahead of Euro 2021 - Ranked

Had coronavirus not struck, Jordan Pickford could have been lining up for England in the Euro 2020 final last Sunday. Instead, he was clawing Daniel Podence's tame shot off his line as it had wriggled through his clutches during Everton's 3-0 defeat to Wolves in the Premier League.

Podence's effort was kept out, but it was one of a number of hair-raising, edge of your seat moments that Pickford has produced this season.

Had the Euros taken place as originally planned, the Everton stopper would likely have still been number one for the Three Lions. But now the finals have been pushed back a year, Pickford and his fellow England goalkeepers have another full season to play themselves in or out of Gareth Southgate's plans.

So who are the candidates to be England number one and how do they compare?

8 - Aaron Ramsdale

Ramsdale has enjoyed a major breakthrough year with Bournemouth

Ramsdale has enjoyed a remarkable rise over the last 12 months. An eye catching loan spell at League One strugglers Wimbledon last campaign was the turning point for the 22-year-old, who since has established himself the youngest first-choice keeper in the Premier League with Bournemouth this season.

He has conceded 59 goals this season and kept just five clean sheets, but this largely thanks to the shaky back four he has in front of him. Ramsdale himself has made just one error that has directly led to a goal.

The Bournemouth keeper could be plying his trade in the Championship next season if the Cherries suffer the drop (although he has been linked with newly-promoted Leeds), but the delaying of the Euros plays into Ramsdale's hands. He is probably not quite ready right now, but give him another season of top flight football and he could zoom up this list.

7 - Fraser Forster

After a couple of shaky seasons, Forster was back to his best in a Celtic shirt this season

Forster's performances for Celtic and Southampton saw him earn six England caps between 2013 and 2016, and he was tipped to one day take the number one shirt for the Three Lions. However, he struggled for form during the 2016/17 season, and these inconsistencies continued into the following campaign. Forster was eventually dropped from the Southampton first team in December 2017.

Since rejoining Celtic on loan in 2019, the 32-year-old appears to have rediscovered his old self. He enjoyed a superb season at Celtic Park - including a player of the match performance in the Scottish League Cup final - with his confidence and decisiveness fully returned.

However, Forster is poised to return to Southampton to battle with Alex McCarthy for the number one spot at St Mary's ahead of the 2020/21 campaign. If he can take his form from the Scottish top tier across the boarder, he could be back in with a shot of a Saints starting berth and a place on the plane for Euro 2021.

6 - Alex McCarthy

McCarthy is an excellent shot stopper - but he does have an error in him

McCarthy has wrestled with Angus Gunn for the number one spot at Southampton this season, and came into the side after their infamous 9-0 thrashing at the hands of Leicester. The Saints have enjoyed a substantial upturn in fortunes since (although not solely due to the introduction of McCarthy into the starting XI).

The 30-year-old has kept six clean sheets in 26 appearances this season, but has produced three errors that have directly led to goals.

McCarthy is an excellent shot-stopper and confident with the ball at his feet, but he does have a tendency to occasionally get caught when attempting to play out from the back. Given Southgate's building from the back philosophy, this could hamper the Southampton stopper's chances.

5 - Ben Foster

Foster has shone towards the latter stages of his career

All-round nice guy Ben Foster initially retired from international football in 2011, but was persuaded to come back ahead of the 2014 World Cup. However, he has not played for his country since.

Despite Watford struggling near the lower echelons of the Premier League this season, Foster has been the Hornet's stand out performer. He has racked up nine clean sheets, and frequently kept his side in games they should have been well out of with a fine selection of saves - most recently during Watford's 2-1 win over Newcastle.

Foster is arguably not quite as complete of a goalkeeper as Nick Pope, Jordan Pickford or Dean Henderson, and will be 38 by the time the Euros come around. Then again, David James had the season of his life and then turned out for England at the 2010 World Cup aged 39, so Foster could well squeeze his way into Southgate's plans.

4 - Tom Heaton

Heaton has been a big miss for Villa

Aston Villa were dealt a huge blow when Tom Heaton was ruled out for the season in January. The former Burnley stopper is simply dependable, making just two errors that have led to goals over the past four seasons.

Heaton would have missed this summer's European Championships due to his season-ending knee injury, but now has a fighting chance of making the Euro 2021 squad. He could be plying his trade in the Championship next season if Villa go down - although this may not be an issue for Southgate, who frequently selected Jack Butland during Stoke's first season in the second tier.

He's not quite in the same league as Pickford, Henderson and Pope - with Burnley allowing Heaton to depart Turf Moor last summer as Pope was regarded as Sean Dyche's number one - but he is still a safe, reliable and dependable pair of hands.

3 - Jordan Pickford

Pickford has blown hot and cold for Everton this season

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 that the Three Lions have got.

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. Given England's possession-based style, having a goalkeeper with good feet is essential, and could put him above Nick Pope and Dean Henderson in Southgate's reckoning.

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 the past four seasons, he has made 12 errors that have directly led to goals. In a major tournament where the margins are so fine and one mistake can send you home, someone with a couple of errors in their locker is not a desired characteristic for a number one.

2 - Dean Henderson

Henderson has shone in his debut Premier League season

Although he is just 23 years old, hasn't 'been there and done it' on the international stage and has only one season of Premier League football under his belt, Dean Henderson possesses a similarly commanding aura to that of Pickford. Come Euro 2021, he will be the same age Pickford was at the 2018 World Cup.

Henderson has kept the joint-second highest number of clean sheets in the Premier League this season, with only Liverpool conceding fewer goals than Sheffield United - although this is in part thanks to Henderson, and partly down to the expertly drilled defence in front of him.

It was against Liverpool where the Sheffield United stopper had his one moment to forget this season, allowing Georginio Wijnaldum’s winner to squirm through his arms. That is the only blot on his copybook this campaign though - and it pales into insignificance in comparison to the number of Pickford's errors. He is not quite as accomplished with the ball at his feet as the Everton goalkeeper; the only detail that could lower him Southgate's estimations.

Henderson has made it clear he wants to be Manchester United number one. Where he is playing his football next season could be pivotal in determining if he is England's first choice too.

1 - Nick Pope

Pope has been outstanding this season, turning in a selection of player of the season performances since the Premier League restarted

When it comes to dependability, few can compete with Nick Pope. The Burnley stopper has been a figure of consistency for the Clarets, and has particularly caught the eye since the Premier League restarted.

Pope has kept the joint-highest number of clean sheets in the top flight this season, and although like Henderson he does have a mean defence in front of him, they did little to prevent the barrage of shots raining down on his goal during Burnley's draw with Liverpool, with Pope forced into eight saves over the course of 90 minutes.

The 28-year-old is arguably the greatest shot-stopper out of Henderson and Pickford - although England will not be expect to face the same volume of shots that Burnley often do. His ability to dictate from the back is also not quite as accomplished as Pickford.

Pope epitomises the graft and determination that Southgate values, having climbed from non-League football to the Premier League in the space of five years. In 71 Premier League appearances, he has never made an error that has directly led to a goal. When it comes to calmness and reliability, you would always put your faith in the Burnley number one. That is why he should be England's first choice.

Source : 90min