Gabriel Agbonlahor has urged Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti to ignore the media criticism of Jordan Pickford and stick by the goalkeeper.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, the former Aston Villa and England striker admitted his surprise that the England international was dropped and then reinstated.

Pickford had started every Premier League game for the Toffees since his move from Sunderland in 2017 before the visit to Newcastle United last week.

Ancelotti explained after the trip to St. James’ Park that the 26-year-old was just being rested and would start against Manchester United at the weekend.

He duly started the game at Goodison Park with summer signing Robin Olsen dropping to the bench again.

Pickford’s performances have come under scrutiny this season especially since he ruled out Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk for the season with a reckless challenge.

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Asked by Football Insider what he made of Ancelotti’s decision to drop and re-call the England international, Agbonlahor said: “I think it’s a bit strange, to be honest.

“If I was Pickford I’d be like ‘why take me out and then put it back in?’

“He just needed to stick by Pickford and don’t be a sheep. The media are all on Pickford’s case, pundits and ex-players.

“I think he should keep with him, we’ve all seen what he’s done with England in the World Cup.

“He’s got that form in him and Ancelotti just needs to teach him and tell him that not to be so erratic sometimes with some of these challenges.

“He just needs to get back to the Pickford we know, who’s one of the best keepers in the league at distribution and making some great saves.

“I’m happy that he’s back in the team and hope he can stay in there.”

In other Everton news, a top pundit has revealed what he believes to be the real reason for the surprise axing of a Toffees star.