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Gareth Southgate gives England’s Jordan Pickford his full backing

• Pickford mocked for ‘throwing his legs in the air’ against Belgium
• Southgate: ‘I’m really pleased with his performances’

Gareth Southgate has defended Jordan Pickford and publicly reaffirmed his faith in his first-choice goalkeeper after the England No 1 came in for criticism over Belgium’s winning goal in last week’s final group game.

Pickford, who will start against Colombia in their last 16 match on Tuesday, endured a few nervous moments in Kaliningrad and was beaten by Adnan Januzaj’s curled attempt from just inside the penalty area, the winger benefiting from time and space to place his shot. The opposing goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, suggested the 24-year-old, at 6ft 1in, might not be tall enough. “The goalkeeper is 10cm smaller than me,” he told Belgian media. “I would have caught it. He was too busy throwing his legs in the air.”

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