By Kevin Phillips

25th Oct, 2020 | 8:30pm

'Half the city hate him' - Exclusive: Phillips worried about fragile Everton player

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford faces a big mental challenge after injuring Virgil van Dijk, according to Kevin Phillips.

The former England international, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, fears “a stigma” will be attached to the 26-year-old following his “clumsy tackle” in the Merseyside derby.

Pickford started in the 2-0 loss at Southampton, Everton’s first loss of the season, after controversially avoiding a suspension for a tackle which ruptured Virgil van Dijk’s ACL in the Merseyside derby.

The England goalkeeper has also come under criticism for his performances this season, making a number of high profile errors for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Phillips drew comparisons to Stephen Hunt’s collision with Petr Cech in 2006 which left the Chelsea goalkeeper with a fractured skull.

“Yeah it can be quite mentally challenging,” he told Football Insider.

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“Let’s not forget that he has got to live in that area as well.

“It reminds me of the situation when Stephen Hunt crashed into Petr Cech and it resulted in Cech having to wear the head guard. A stigma becomes attached to you, whether you meant it or not.

“I am sure Pickford did not mean it. It was a clumsy tackle.

“Now he has to live in that area and it is like Sunderland and Newcastle. You are either red or blue. Half of the city will hate him and the other half will put an arm around him.

“I am pretty sure he is upset because he seems like a different guy.”

Speaking on the incident last week, Ancelotti said: “Jordan is really sad, really disappointed (Van Dijk is injured) but to say it was pre-meditated, it was stupid, is not fair.

“It was a strong contact, maybe mistimed, but sometimes in football it can happen.”

In other Everton news, Michael Brown insists Ferguson critical to ‘Big’ player transformation.