Ex-England star James praises Pickford for riding out Van Dijk injury storm

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Ex-England star James praises Pickford for riding out Van Dijk injury storm | Goal.com

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The Everton goalkeeper has been defended after he came under fire for his challenge on the Liverpool star

Former England goalkeeper David James has praised Jordan Pickford for the way he bounced back from criticism for his role in the injury to Virgil van Dijk.

After a challenge from Pickford in October’s Merseyside derby, the Liverpool defender suffered cruciate knee ligament damage which ruled him out for the season and this summer’s European Championships. 

Ex-Reds keeper James believes that Pickford suffered a dip in form because of extra scrutiny but says he is back to his best in time for Euro 2020, with the Everton man set to start for England in Sunday’s opener against Croatia.

What’s been said?

“It was a foul, in my opinion, but it’s something that Jordan was always doing or naturally does – there was no intent to hurt anybody,” James told Goal.

“For Jordan that could in part have had an impact on some indifferent form because ultimately it was Liverpool’s Van Dijk.

“It wasn’t some young defender from Fulham who most people wouldn’t have recognised, this was one of the world’s best defenders from the Premier League champions so the conversation would just rumble on and on.

“For him to come through that and to be in the form that he was at the end of the season going into the tournament, that shows a positive mark of maturity from him.”

Pumped up Pickford

Pickford has also come under criticism for being too fired up for big games – an accusation that was also fired at his predecessor Joe Hart.

But James says the Three Lions keeper should be judged on how he performs for the national team and says he has never let down Gareth Soutgate.

“There has to be a sweet spot for any player. Some of them are calm, some are more energetic,” James added.

“When it comes to England, he’s played marvellously well. All this energetic behaviour to get himself pumped up, it works for England.

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“Jordan doing whatever he needs to do to get England over the line is not a problem.”

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