Sam Allardyce doubts Everton's Jordan Pickford will be England's number one at the World Cup, though the new Toffees boss has taken a shine to the self-assured, mature stopper.
The Toffees were indebted to Pickford against Chelsea at Goodison Park on Saturday as he made four key saves, two from Pedro and another pair from Eden Hazard, in a stalemate that maintained Allardyce's unbeaten start in the post.
Pickford, 23, moved to Everton from Allardyce's old club Sunderland for £30million over the summer and even when his side have disappointed this term, he has usually been among the more credible performers.
He won his first senior England cap last month and Gareth Southgate is likely to consider his options between the sticks now previous number one Joe Hart has lost his place at West Ham.
Asked whether he thought Pickford could be the Three Lions' keeper in Russia next summer, ex-England boss Allardyce replied: "It might be a bit early. (But) it is not beyond what he can deal with.
"He is 23, going on 30, so he is very mature for his age and he takes responsibility. He sometimes looks at me and says, 'What you talking to me like that for, I'm a great goalkeeper'. Which I quite like!
"He knows what he is and he's hopefully going to get as far as he can, doing a great job for us.
"He seems to be able to get the right spot. His starting position is exceptionally good and that is why he is making the saves he is.
"He will be a few years from his best if he wants to mature and learn, and practice and practice.
"If he thinks he has made it and he's arrived and doesn't do all that practice, he will get caught out and won't achieve what he can achieve.
"I knew he was a talented goalkeeper when I watched him on loan at Preston and it is why I got him back at Sunderland. His growth is miraculously quick for a goalkeeper."
Pickford was certainly the busier goalkeeper in Merseyside as Allardyce's side failed to register a single shot on target against Thibaut Courtois.
Yet his side were resolute and determined, extending an unbeaten run that now stands at seven games, while the reigning champions were left bemoaning the absence of suspended striker Alvaro Morata.
Antonio Conte's men dominated both possession and territory but lacked a cutting edge with Hazard largely ineffectual as a false nine and Michy Batshuayi failing to deliver in his 19-minute cameo from the bench.
Conte made no apologies for naming a starting line-up without a recognised striker and conceded his players had to take their chances.
"It is a pity, I think we played very well, a very good performance, another clean sheet, but if you want to win this game you must score and must be more clinical," he added.
"Don't forget our striker Morata was out and I think this player is very important because he is our finisher.
"But at the same time we played with the second options, with three number 10s – Willian, Pedro, Hazard – and we created many chances. Then you must be more clinical."
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