England vs Czech Republic: Tom Heaton determined to oust outstanding Jordan Pickford and claim No 1 shirt – The Independent

England vs Czech Republic: Tom Heaton determined to oust outstanding Jordan Pickford and claim No 1 shirt - The Independent

Tom Heaton enjoying challenge with Jordan Pickford for England spot

1:57 Tom Heaton says he is enjoying his rivalry with Jordan Pickford for the England No 1 shirt. Tom Heaton says he is enjoying his rivalry with Jordan Pickford for the England No 1 shirt. Tom Heaton says he is enjoying his rivalry with Jordan Pickford for the England No 1 shirt.

Pickford has been first choice since getting the nod in Englands World Cup warm-up match with Nigeria last year.

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He went on to impress at the tournament in Russia and even saved a penalty as England won their first World Cup penalty shoot out.

It meant that the former Manchester United youth prospect had to bide his time on the sidelines, although his impressive return to the fold at Turf Moor brought an international recall for this months Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Pickford has established himself as Gareth Southgate’s No.1 after helping the Three Lions reach the World Cup semi finals in Russia last summer.

There have been calls for him to be dropped and replaced by Heaton, who is back to full fitness after missing the World Cup with a dislocated shoulder.

Tom Heaton is more interested in Jordan Pickfords outstanding international performances than his club troubles, although the Burnley goalkeepers determination to usurp him as England No 1 is clear.

But Southgate is expected to keep faith with Pickford for Friday’s opening Euro 2022 qualifier against Czech Republic at Wembley.

Heaton admits he is relishing his battle with Pickford, but doesn’t think his rival has done anything to let England down or justify being dropped.

Having gone to Euro 2016 and established himself as part of the Three Lions squad, Heatons World Cup hopes were derailed at the start of the 2017-18 season by a nasty shoulder injury.

The Burnley ace said: “I am obviously enjoying it. I think for all the goalkeepers, I think hes been outstanding wearing the England shirt.

The Everton goalkeepers penalty shootout heroics against Colombia capped a fine all-round tournament, but the 25-year-olds form has been questionable with the Toffees.

“I think his performances were really top draw and its never an easy thing to do, putting the England goalkeeper jersey on, and I think he did it superbly well.

“Were here, we compete for the place. Of course everyone wants to play, but you think about yourself, you look at your sort of intrinsic thinking, try and get your things right and see what the manager decides.

I was delighted to be there. Obviously, it was a difficult moment waving them off and wishing them all the best of course, but on a personal note slightly tough.

He added: “I think theres no more… I try not to look at anyone else, as ever the thinking is on myself and well see what happens.

Well, in fairness, I think being involved in it in any sort of form was brilliant, having not played a lot football over the nine months I was out, Heaton said.

“Weve got a few days training. You obviously try and perform, and try to impress the manager, and see what decision he makes.

It was tough. You get injured. It was a longer-term injury, I probably didnt know the details of it at the time, didnt realise the scale of it, to be honest.

“You respect that decision and support whoever is in, so for me its not a big one that for me.”

To be still considered, still have two weeks here in the preparation was great for me personally, actually. It was a real lift after the end of a tough season.

LIVERPOOL are likely to fine tune their first-team squad in the summer transfer window instead of revamping their roster.

STEVEN GERRARD has got to do better in the transfer market or face the prospect of Celtic winning another league title next season.

LIVERPOOL have a crucial psychological advantage over defending Premier League champions Manchester City.

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