By Alex McLeish

5th Feb, 2021 | 4:00pm

McLeish: Ancelotti may have told Pickford he's set for Everton axe

Jordan Pickford may have been happy to be taken “out the firing line” at Everton by missing the win over Leeds United.

That is the view of former Rangers and Scotland manager Alex McLeish who, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested Carlo Ancelotti had spoken to the 26-year-old about giving him the chance to regather his composure out of the starting XI.

A mainstay in the Toffees’ side this term, Pickford sat out against Leeds due to a hip injury as Robin Olsen took his place.

The England international had come under heavy fire for his error in the 1-1 draw against Leicester City, while he failed to stop Callum Wilson netting a double in a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle.

McLeish believes Ancelotti will have spoken to Pickford about potentially dropping him in order to get his head together and that the injury blow may have been a happy coincidence for the goalkeeper.

McLeish told Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, “Ancelotti’s an experienced manager, he played the game, he knows all the emotions of footballers and I’m sure that he’s a father figure and he would have said the right things to Pickford. 

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“It may be he said to Pickford I want to take you out the firing line for a while, let you gather your thoughts and maybe have a wee think about things.

“He was getting a lot of stick, a lot of criticism for his positional play and ultimately it could cost him his England spot.

“You never know, Pickford might even have been happy with that, it may be a relief and a lot of pressure taken off his mind that Ancelotti’s given him a rest.”

Pickford has played 19 games across all competitions this season but was dropped against Newcastle and Leicester earlier in the campaign.

In other news: ‘He Lives With My Son…’ – Danny Mills verdict on Everton starlet Thierry Small.