Pickford the hero!
Sunderland academy product Jordan Pickford helped send England through to the World Cup quarter-final after saving from Carlos Bacca in a penalty shoot-out, which allowed Eric Dier to step up and hit the winner.
Another academy product in Jordan Henderson will be thankful for Pickford’s save after his attempt was saved by David Ospina.
England had taken the lead in the second half thanks to a Harry Kane penalty, and it looked like they would go straight through after a last gasp wonder save by Pickford from a long range Mateus Uribe effort, but Yerry Mina scored from the resultant corner.
And with nothing happening in extra time, Pickford stepped up and made himself a hero.
Mandron praises former Sunderland duo
Former Sunderland striker Mikael Mandron had nothing but praise for Pickford ahead of kick-off and another of England’s ex-Sunderland contingent, Danny Rose.
Speaking to the Daily Gazette about Pickford, Mandron says he was confident that Pickford would also end up at the top of the game:
Jordan’s a great guy and a great footballer.
We’ve seen that at Sunderland and he’s done just as well at Everton. Now he’s England number one and I think he most definitely deserves it.
Ever since I joined Sunderland, I felt he was destined to end up there - 100 per cent. He was always that guy that you felt he had everything you want from a goalkeeper.
Even when he was young and he went up to play with the first team, he would always be very vocal and demanding. His kicking and distribution is excellent and so important, in the modern game.
With many young players, you think that they’re going to be great and for whatever reason, they don’t end up there. But Jordan has and he deserves it – I’m really happy for him.
Mandron also praised his former Sunderland team-mate Rose:
I played with Danny Rose a little bit at Sunderland, He’s a really nice guy and I enjoyed being his team-mate when we were there.
The Frenchman naturally wants his home nation to win, but is also hoping England don’t win due to the stick he’ll get at his current club Gillingham:
It’s been 20 years since we won the World Cup, so you never know!
They got the job done in the group stages and you would always want to win and play badly, rather than lose and play well.
There are so many English players here that they would really get on me if England won the World Cup!
I would rather someone else won it, for that reason!
Rennes hoping for Khazri decision
Rennes manager Sabri Lamouchi is hoping Wahbi Khazri’s future will be resolved in the near future after Tunisia’s World Cup campaign was ended at the group stage.
Lamouchi, who signed a new contract with the French club yesterday, is hoping to bring back the 27-year-old after he shone on loan for Rennes last season and says his chairman is doing everything possible to make the return possible:
I know the club and the president have not stopped trying to convince Wahbi. As far as I know he has not signed somewhere else and he has not said no to us.
We’ll do what it takes to keep him with us as we know what he can bring to the dressing room.
The president is doing what is necessary.
Unfortunately, I want to say, we are not the only ones [after him] but it’s clear that as a coach it would save me time to have him as he knows me and I know him.
Despite wanting to keep Tunisian’s captain and believing the player’s future will be resolved soon, he does have alternatives if a move for Khazri doesn’t materialise:
It should be settling this week one way or the other, we’re talking to a number of other players, there’s a lot of discussion going on, so we do not have to depend on a single player.
Rumoured targets talk new clubs
A pair of strikers who were linked with moves to the Stadium of Light but have since moved elsewhere have been talking about their new clubs.
First Gavin Reilly who played under Jack Ross last season - which, in truth, was the only reason the player was linked - joined Bristol Rovers yesterday and said he can’t wait to play in England after spending his entire career in Scotland:
It’ll be the first time that I’ve played in England in my career but I’m happy to get things over the line.
Head of recruitment Tommy Widdrington got in touch with me and I’ve always had the ambition to come down and play in England.
I just felt this was the right time for me especially as Bristol Rovers are a League One side. I’m just looking forward to getting going, it’s a big change for me but I’m really excited.
Then Lyle Taylor, who is a striker Sunderland actually did miss out on, spoke about his decision to join Charlton instead.
The 28-year-old had been accused of turning down a move to Sunderland due to geographical reasons but the player said that was nonsense and it was purely down to ‘footballing reasons’:
It was not crucial to stay at home. I am very family-orientated. But if it’s right for my career it is right for my career. There has been a lot said about another team in this league. The decision was not based on being away from home.
If it was just based on money I would be there. This is a footballing decision and I can’t wait to get started and playing in front the crowd at The Valley.