It’s the least sexy position in the squad, but the battle to become England’s third-choice goalkeeper for the World Cup in Qatar is taking several twists this summer. As Jordan Pickford is safe as houses as the nation’s number one, and Aaron Ramsdale is likely to go despite his woeful performance against Hungary, those in contention for the third and final spot are making moves in the transfer window.
It seems there is a jostling for position in this summer transfer window for those England keepers that have fallen out of favour, or out of the Premier League in recent years. Now, England’s men in between the sticks are looking to secure moves, and vitally first team football in the Premier League that could see them catch Gareth Southgate’s eye.
Nick Pope is now 30 and following Burnley’s relegation from the Premier League, is looking likely to join a resurgent Newcastle United under Eddie Howe. He’s already got eight England caps to his name, provides a good level of experience and is a wonderful shot-stopper, but there have always been questions about his level of ability with his feet.
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He’ll go in as Newcastle’s number one and a good start to the season could see his stock rise to the point where he is an option for England once more. Given he was part of the Nations League squad, he currently tops this list of goalkeepers for Southgate, who gave him his debut and took him to the 2018 World Cup.
Sam Johnstone has also been involved in the international set-up before, with three caps to his name and his return to the Premier League with Crystal Palace should put him back in contention. He’ll have to fight his way past Vincente Guaita to the number one spot, but should he do so, he will once again make himself a worthy candidate to be third choice.
Nick Pope has agreed personal terms with Newcastle, medical to be scheduled soon.
If both Pope and Johnstone do well over the next few months, there’s another scenario that could unfold. Pickford is untouchable, but Arsenal’s Ramsdale is not. He failed to make any positive impression over the Nations League disaster and was criticised for his individual errors in the 4-0 hammering by Hungary. Should he fail to shine for Arsenal next season potentially two, rather than one, England spots could be up for grabs.
If he does slip up, there’s plenty of suitors making sure they are in the right place to take advantage. Away from Pope and Johnstone, Dean Henderson has been linked with a move away from Manchester United which could reignite his potential. He’s 25 so provides a longer-term solution, and is linked with a loan move to Nottingham Forest that could turn into a permanent deal.
Given the success he had at Sheffield United, helping them up to the Premier League and then to a ninth place finish, Henderson will be hoping this move can have a similar effect on his career. Goalkeepers need games, and he is no exception. Given David De Gea’s stint at Old Trafford shows no sign of ending, a move away is a necessity at this point for the Englishman, who will be desperate to add to his solitary England cap.
Those three are the big hitters who will benefit most from a summer transfer, but there’s also other names that are moving into contention. Fraser Forster has gone to Tottenham Hotspur to be a back-up there but a couple of injuries could see him called upon, while if Alex McCarthy can hold off new signing Gavin Bazuna on the south coast, he could get himself into contention.
The goalkeeping merry-go-round is in full swing this summer and several English keepers are vying for position. Pope is currently the best positioned to make the squad, and a move to Newcastle will strengthen his hand, but a sensible move for Henderson could rocket him back into the running. Summer gloving, happened so fast.
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