Sunderland stopper Jordan Pickford vows to keep improving
Jordan Pickford has insisted he will only get better as he attempts to establish himself as a top-class goalkeeper.
The 22-year-old Sunderland keeper secured his first Premier League clean sheet at the 12th time of asking on Saturday as the Black Cats beat Hull 3-0 on an eventful afternoon at the Stadium of Light to climb from the foot of the table.
Pickford produced three fine saves to underline the quality which saw him called up to the senior England squad last week, but he is confident there is more to come.
He said: "I always say to myself every level I have been on, the more games I play, the better I'll get.
"I'm a keeper, I'm young, but I believe I am good enough as well, so I have just got to keep working hard in training and hopefully keep putting the performances in on a Saturday."
His performance this Saturday was outstanding as he kept out Dieumerci Mbokani's second-minute strike and then made a spectacular stop from Robert Snodgrass' overhead kick before denying Curtis Davies and getting a hand from full-back Patrick van Aanholt on the line as Mbokani and Michael Dawson followed up.
However, it was not out of keeping with much of what he has produced so far this season after being asked to deputise for the injured Vito Mannone, to the extent that manager David Moyes has come to expect excellence from him.
Moyes said: "I thought he was just average today, just what I expect, really, from him. That gives you an idea.
"Some of the saves he has made in the last two games have been unbelievable, it really is unbelievable, the last two games.
"We have needed him, honestly. We have needed him today as much as we have needed the two centre-forwards.
"If he keeps growing and doing the things he should do, living right, working in the gym, keeping his diet right, I think there's a top goalkeeper in there, I really do."
If Pickford provided the foundation at one end, it was the potency of those two centre-forwards, Jermain Defoe and Victor Anichebe, who did the damage at the other.
Defoe gave the home side a 34th-minute lead with his 150th Premier League goal, a cultured finish from Duncan Watmore's flick-on after leaving Davies, Ahmed Elmohamady and Dawson trailing in his wake.
However, it was the rejuvenated Anichebe, after a nine-minute second-half break courtesy of a floodlight failure, who killed off Hull's resistance with a smartly-taken double to seal priceless back-to-back victories and complete a good fortnight for team-mate Pickford.
The young keeper said: "It's been a good couple of weeks for me and the team, getting the first win at Bournemouth then back-to-back against Hull and the clean sheet. We couldn't ask for much more really.
"I had a good week away with the England lads as well, a good learning experience to get a good feel of it."
It proved a sobering afternoon on Wearside for Tigers boss Mike Phelan, who saw his side start well, but fail to make the most of their chances.
Phelan said: "I thought we were value at 1-0 and I had a great belief that we could get a goal and get back into the game. That didn't happen and when you don't take chances like we created, then you are going to come under pressure.
"We are away from home, we created numerous opportunities, didn't take them and at the other end, we probably conceded three opportunities and three goals to two strikers who have been there, seen it and done it."