Tuesday, May 24

England’s goalkeeper options – ranked

There’s a famous old Nike advert which features Paolo Maldini and the tagline ‘Italy’s goalkeeper – easiest job in Europe’.

Unfortunately for England, they don’t have Maldini marshalling the defence, and so it kind of matters who they have between the sticks.

The race is on to secure that number one shirt ahead of the 2022 World Cup, but who are Gareth Southgate’s frontrunners?

Here’s 90min’s totally accurate ranking of England’s goalkeeping options…

Tom HeatonTom Heaton

Injury has derailed Heaton’s career / Michael Regan/Getty Images

Poor Tom Heaton would surely have more than just the three England caps he’s earned if the latter end of his career wasn’t so injury-riddled.

He was always a reliable option for Burnley, before Nick Pope decided to stop being a non-league goalkeeper and become one of the most sprawling stoppers in the top flight.

A move to Aston Villa followed before again succumbing to fitness problems, and is now back at Man Utd, where he is now one of the world’s most impressive third choices.

Joe HartJoe Hart

Hart is enjoying life with Celtic / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Basically, we’re just reminding you of the fact that Joe Hart picked up 75 England caps between 2008 and 2017, before his career suddenly nose dived down the toilet.

After a year mocking Tottenham Hotspur on the sidelines, Hart has finally found a loving home again north of the border with Celtic.

Etienne GreenEtienne Green

Green has been capped at U21 level / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

What, you haven’t heard of Etienne Green of Saint-Etienne (nicknamed ‘the Greens’)?

Still only 21, Green is now a starter for the Ligue 1 side, and after declaring for the country of his birth back in the summer, will surely be on Gareth Southgate’s watchlist from here on in.

YouTuber & part-time goalkeeper Ben Foster initially retired from international football in 2011, was persuaded to come back ahead of the 2014 World Cup and hasn’t been seen since.

After falling out of favour at Watford last season, Foster has reclaimed the starting spot from Austria international Daniel Bachmann.

Hey, look, if you want to talk about having guys in the squad that are good for the dressing room, surely there’s no one better for that role than The Cycling GK.

Alex McCarthyAlex McCarthy

McCarthy won a sole England cap in 2018 / Alex Morton/Getty Images

There used to be a time where you wondered if McCarthy could have done a little bit better for every goal Southampton conceded.

Thankfully, it’s been a while since he’s made any real errors between the St Mary’s sticks, and has raised his level back to ‘standard Premier League goalkeeper’. Then again, he has been dropped.

Karl DarlowKarl Darlow

Darlow could switch allegiance to Wales, should he wish to / Pool/Getty Images

Newcastle’s trials and tribulations have been well documented for a number of years, but one area where they’ve pretty well stocked has been in the goalkeeping department.

Martin Dubravka was a surprise success story when he rocked up at St James’ Park, and that often meant Karl Darlow – once of Nottingham Forest fame – was forced to watch on.

But after coming into the side, Darlow showed just how good he can be – single-handedly keeping the troubled Magpies in a number of games with some outstanding saves. Sadly, he’s now back on the bench.

Once upon a time Fraser Forster was hailed as England’s future number one goalkeeper.

An actual man-mountain, he arrived at Southampton from Celtic ready to jump into Joe Hart’s sweaty gloves, but unfortunately he’s only earned six international caps to date after his form fell off a cliff.

He basically didn’t play a game for three years but is now back between the sticks for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side – and he’s doing alright! England call-up alright? Hmm.

Sam JohnstoneSam Johnstone

Johnstone has had a terrific individual 2020/21 / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Had David de Gea not been thing at Manchester United, there’s every chance that we could be talking about Sam Johnstone as the Red Devils’ number one right now.

A talented stopper who came through the Old Trafford ranks, he had to make his way in the game through a succession of lower league loan spells.

Aston Villa was where he caught the eye, but it’s a permanent switch to West Brom that has allowed Johnstone to flourish.

Despite playing in the Championship, Southgate has continued to call up Johnstone, and it seems likely that he won’t be playing in the second tier for too long.

Dean HendersonDean Henderson

Henderson is pushing to become Man Utd’s number one / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

After an impressive 2019/20 campaign on loan at Sheffield United, there were plenty of calls for Dean Henderson to usurp De Gea and become Man Utd’s starting stopper.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spent the year switching between the two before giving the Englishman an extended run towards the end of the season – but he didn’t make a lasting impression and has barely featured since.

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Henderson has obvious quality, but until we see it on a consistent basis again, he probably shouldn’t be in contention for the Three Lions.

Nick PopeNick Pope

Pope should be considered frontrunner as it stands / Pool/Getty Images

When it comes to dependability, few can compete with Pope. The Burnley stopper has been a model of consistency for the Clarets, and has particularly caught the eye over the past three years.

Pope missed out on a place at Euro 2020 with injury, but since returning for Burnley, has looked back to his best – despite their struggles – and is doing all he can to impress Southgate.

Aaron RamsdaleAaron Ramsdale

Ramsdale’s been in top form / Michael Regan/GettyImages

After a nearly flawless start to life with Arsenal, Ramsdale has come racing into the number one goalkeeper debate.

He was mercilessly mocked for his role in Bournemouth and Sheffield United’s relegations, but he’s looked sensational for the Gunners and has distribution to rival Pickford’s.

We just need to see more from him. We need to know if this is the real Ramsdale and not the guy who conceded 1,000 goals in the last two seasons.

Jordan PickfordJordan Pickford

Pickford has been in superb form with England / GES-Sportfoto/GettyImages

England’s best goalkeeper undoubtedly remains Jordan Pickford (imagine saying that with confidence only a few months ago).

The Everton man looked back to his best in 2021, putting in some top performances for club and country – even though results haven’t followed for the Toffees.

If England’s attackers had done their job in the Euro 2020 final, then Pickford would have been hailed as a national hero after a tournament that was only rivalled by Gianluigi Donnarumma.


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