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Make Your Case: Is Losing Pickford To Injury Really That Big Of A Deal?

Jordan Pickford is out for a good portion of the season due to a knee injury, meaning that Vito Mannone will have to step into his very capable shoes whilst he recovers. Is it that much of an issue though? Tom and Gav argue whether losing Pickford is a big deal or not - let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on social media!

Sunderland Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tom: Calm Down!

Jordan Pickford being ruled out for almost two months is not a good thing. It's a simple fact. The New Monkey lover has been a revelation since breaking into the team BUT his absence is not the end of the world that some Sunderland fans seem to think.

While the Washington-born stopper has been an integral part of our mild resurgence in recent weeks, his position is not as indispensable as others. Had say Jermain Defoe been laid out for the same amount of time we would be totally buggered but the position of goalkeeper is somewhere we always seem to have options.

Whether it be Kieren Westwood stepping in for Simon Mignolet or Thomas Myhre holding the fort for Mart Poom - we seem to have an uncanny knack of being stacked in the goalkeeping department. As the future England number 1 recovers we will be placed in the capable hands of a hungry Vito Mannone.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It is easy to forget that the Italian started the campaign as our first-choice goalkeeper and had it not been for a serious arm injury in August he could still be keeping Pickford out of the team. Mannone has demonstrated during his time at the Stadium of Light that he is calming factor when between the sticks.

He was instrumental in helping keep us in the Premier League last season. Excellent displays in key matches against Norwich, Chelsea and Manchester United allowed us to build a head of steam and ensure we stayed in the league.

While he may not possess the kicking and distribution prowess of Pickford, which has proved highly effective in recent matches, he is confident at commanding his penalty area and is one hell of a good shot stopper as seen against Liverpool. His experience of these relegation dogfights from both Gus Poyet’s great escape in 2014 and last season’s similar feat will prove hugely valuable especially with so many high profile players out injured.

Yes, Pickford being injured is bad and, yes, we do have tonnes of other injuries but just chill out everyone, Big Vito has got this. This is not the horror days of Michael Ingham or Kelvin Davis - this is an experienced Premier League goalkeeper to step back into a defence he knows well.

Take a deep breath and be thankful it isn't Jermain Defoe who'd just done his ACL.

Gav - It's A Huge Deal!

In the two games that Vito Mannone has played since returning to the side in the absence of Jordan Pickford he has put in two performances that fall at completely different ends of the scale.

Against Burnley he was horrific, yet against Liverpool he did fine and you just wonder whether that first performance back was merely a blip.

Still, though, we've became accustomed to seeing Jordan Pickford single-handedly win us points this season and a large part of that is down to what he offers us at both ends of the pitch - and it is that, for me, that gives me the biggest headache in regards to how big of a miss he'll be.

Jordan Pickford's distribution of the ball is exemplary, and has arguably became our most important offensive tool.

Sunderland v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

When we are under pressure, Pickford is able to get the ball forward to the players that can profit from it at ease. Victor Anichebe's success this season has been in large part down to how quickly and effectively Pickford can get the ball up to him in the attacking third - without Jordan being there to get us out of danger, I worry that it limits us somewhat going forward.

Vito Mannone's kicking leaves very little to be desired and that is the biggest worry, for me. When you've incorporated your goalkeeper's ability to distribute the ball into your attacking arsenal, it's very difficult to then find a different way of playing.

And it's not that I don't have faith in Vito Mannone, because I do, but he's not a consistent points-winning goalkeeper like Pickford is. It might be my red and white bias talking here but Pickford's performances this season have put him right near the top of the list when it comes to being amongst the most talented goalkeepers in this league - he's comfortably better than Manchester City's goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, and Petr Cech isn't getting any younger.

How could you not miss a player of that calibre, especially when you are as bad as what Sunderland are?

Who do you agree with? Is the loss of Jordan Pickford to our side that big a deal? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below!

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