Wayne Rooney has urged Jordan Pickford to “calm down” in the wake of his challenge on Virgil van Dijk in last weekend’s Merseyside derby.
Everton goalkeeper Pickford lunged in on Van Dijk early in the fixture with Liverpool, resulting in the defender being substituted after a lengthy delay.
Netherlands star Van Dijk has since been ruled out for many months with an anterior cruciate ligament injury and is unlikely to feature again this season.
The incident has led to heightened criticism of Pickford, whose ability has been called into question after a number of goalkeeping errors and erratic decisions.
But Rooney believes his former Everton teammate can turn things around if he can address the “mental side” of his game.
“One issue, of course, is the mistakes of Jordan Pickford. I’m sure Jordan knows, himself, that he needs to be much harder to beat,” Rooney wrote in The Times .
“I still believe his attributes make him both Everton and England’s best option and his errors aren’t massive, technical ones – they are down to the mental side of things.
“The one little bit of advice I’d give Jordan is just calm yourself down. Take some time.
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“With him, everything seems to be on a knife-edge, even to the point that when he’s kicking it long it looks like he’s kicking it as hard as he can – there was an instance, versus Liverpool, where he kicked it and nearly fell over afterwards.”
While he praised Pickford for a number of impressive saves he made in the 2-2 draw, Rooney admitted the shot-stopper should have been sent off as he gave his verdict on the challenge on Van Dijk.
Rooney added: “He has to deal with the fall out over Virgil van Dijk’s injury.
“I think it was just unfortunate – Jordan got his positioning wrong and raced out quickly to try and block the shot, catching Van Dijk. It looked accidental – though it should have been a red card.”
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