The presence of Robin Olsen at Everton has given Jordan Pickford “a kick up the backside” and helped him rediscover his best form.
That is the view of former Aston Villa and England striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after the England international’s “outstanding” display in the Merseyside derby.
Pickford returned to the Toffees starting XI against Manchester City last midweek after missing four games with a rib injury.
After a 3-1 loss to City, Pickford put on a masterful display at Anfield where he ended the game with six saves as Everton ran out 2-0 winners over Liverpool.
Summer loan signing Olsen filled in for the 26-year-old and the Sweden international also featured in two Premier League games earlier this season when Pickford was rotated.
“When you bring a keeper in and it’s 50/50 on who starts out of you and that goalkeeper it’s going to make you play better,” Agbonlahor told Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley.
“When I played and a great striker comes to the club, it made my game go up because you’re not guaranteed to start.
“Pickford was outstanding against Liverpool, he made some great saves and it’s a kick up the backside that he probably needed.
“I’m sure we’ll start seeing the best of Pickford in crucial months for Everton trying for top four and England at the Euros.
“If he can play like he did against Liverpool, he’ll definitely be England’s number one.”
Pickford has played 19 Premier League games but picked up only his fourth clean sheet of the season at Anfield on Saturday.
The Merseyside derby also represented his 150th game across all competitions for the Toffees.