Jordan Pickford has insisted that he has enjoyed being pushed by the ‘unbelievable’ Aaron Ramsdale for the England number-one shirt in recent times.
Pickford enjoyed a strong season for club side Everton last season, helping them stave off relegation with several impressive performances towards the tail end of the campaign.
Ramsdale also fared well for Arsenal, shaking off early doubts to cement himself as the Gunners’ first-choice goalkeeper.
Both stoppers have been called up for the Three Lions’ four UEFA Nations League games this month with Pickford likely to remain Southgate’s go-to pick for now.
Despite this, the Everton man insisted that he is relishing the competition for places in the squad.
“There’s always going to be debate and someone challenging you for your position. It’s about performing for club and country, but you always want to be getting pushed. I enjoy those challenges, it strives me on to be number one for England for longer,” he told Sky Sports.
“You want other people playing well and pushing, when we train together we’re pushing each other to get better and when you’ve got three lads training at their best, it’s working well.
“[Ramsdale’s] had a really good season, his first season at Arsenal, he’s been unbelievable. But for me, it’s about concentrating on myself, I know I’ve got to be at my best every day because you know you’re going to have that competition every day with England and Everton too. You’ve got to keep pushing yourself and setting yourself targets to get better and better.
“Aaron is a great lad, we get on really well and it’s the same with Popey too, so we’ve got a good group together.
“I think since I’ve been in the system with England, there’s always been good competition. I was here with Joe Hart and Jack Butland in my first camp, there’s always good competition and there always will be, but Ramsdale and Pope have both had very good seasons and it’s good competition for me.”
England kick off their new Nations League campaign by facing Hungary on Saturday. Games against Germany, Italy and then Hungary again follow.
For more from Matt O’Connor-Simpson, follow him on Twitter