England manager Gareth Southgate called Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford to offer his support after the Merseyside derby – and says his place in the national team is not under threat.
Pickford, 26, was criticised for a challenge on Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk which has ruled the defender out for months with a serious knee injury.
“I recognised it had been a very high-profile situation,” said Southgate.
“I just felt it would be an appropriate call to make to see how he was.”
Pickford was not punished for the incident, while Merseyside Police subsequently investigated offensive tweets aimed at the goalkeeper.
The Premier League game, on 17 October, was played after an international break in which Pickford was selected for England’s win over Belgium and defeat by Denmark, despite a prior run of poor performances including the one against Brighton on 3 October.
Although he played the next league fixture after the Van Dijk incident, a 2-0 defeat by Southampton, he was rested for last weekend’s 2-1 loss at Newcastle.
But Toffees manager Carlo Ancelotti insisted Pickford will return for Saturday’s game against Manchester United.
England boss Southgate has also called up Manchester United’s Dean Henderson and Burnley’s Nick Pope for November’s matches against the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland.
“When people say I have been loyal to him he has deserved that,” Southgate said on Pickford.
“His performances have been excellent for us and so that has not been a difficult decision for me.
“We have some competition for places but I would have to say that there is nobody who I think is challenging seriously at the moment to push him out of that position.
“I think he is also benefiting from as experienced and successful a manager as you can have at club level.
“[Ancelotti] will deal with everything in a very calm manner and a very measured way, so even over the years he has taken an opportunity to rest his goalkeepers – and he did that last week – but within 15 minutes of that decision you knew Jordan would be playing this weekend.
“Of course this has been a very difficult period for [Pickford] in terms of the spotlight on that particular challenge and because of the profile of the player involved in it, but it is disappointing to see a player like that miss football.”
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