Ex-PNE keeper makes Sunderland bow

Jordan Pickford made his Sunderland debut against Arsenal
Jordan Pickford made his Sunderland debut against Arsenal
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Former Preston North End loan goalkeeper Jordan Pickford says he wants to challenge to be Sunderland’s No.1 rather than be loaned out again.

Pickford made his Black Cats debut in their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

He had been recalled by Sunderland last week from his loan at North End, a spell in which he kept 13 clean sheets in 27 appearances.

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has confirmed that Vito Mannone will return between the posts for their Premier League game against Swansea on Wednesday night but he wants Pickford to challenge Mannone and Costel Pantilimon to be first choice.

Pickford said: “The manager wanted to see me in a game and how I dealt with the pressure.

“I thought I did that well and I’ve just got to keep training day-in, day-out, and see what happens.

“I’ve got to wait for my chance and maybe be a little bit patient and when I’m called upon, grab it with both hands and hopefully don’t look back.

“The last thing I want to do now is go back out on loan.

“As a fan and a player, I want to be in the side and be number one, but I’ve got to be patient and try to put pressure on.”

Pickford was disappointed to have bowed out of the FA Cup, however his Sunderland debut was a big thrill.

The 21-year-old said: “It was a dream come true as a young lad coming from Washington and a Sunderland fan,

“Obviously the result wasn’t the best, but from a personal point of view it was the proudest moment of my life, and for my family as well.

“I have been on a lot of loans and have benefited from each of them.

“The Preston one really helped me. I’m thankful that they took me, I came back and there’s nothing better than to go and play.

“I didn’t feel too nervous. I kind of told myself it was just another game and I had to keep the ball out of the net.

“I’ve made my debut now and I couldn’t ask for any more.

“I’ll have to carry on working hard in training and keep putting the pressure on.”

Pickford joined North End on a season-long loan last July but Sunderland had a recall option for the first 10 days of January.

During his time at Deepdale, he made his debut for the England Under-21 side and is tipped to go on and play at senior international level.

In previous seasons, Pickford had loan spells with Bradford, Carlisle, Burton, Alfreton and Darlington.

North End have signed Sam Johnstone on a 28-day loan from Manchester United since losing Pickford and hope to agree a longer stay for him by the end of the January transfer window.

Johnstone will return to the PNE side at Bristol City on Tuesday night, United having not allowed him to play in Saturday’s FA Cup defeat to Peterborough.