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Former Liverpool goalkeeper David James insists Jordan Pickford has matured since his horror tackle on Virgil van Dijk last October.

Everton shot-stopper Pickford lunged in on Van Dijk in the sixth minute of the Merseyside derby, ending the latter's season with just five rounds of Premier League fixtures played.

The Dutchman suffered an anterior cruciate ligament rupture and subsequently underwent surgery which ruled him out for an indefinite period, meaning he will also play no part at Euro 2020.

Pickford, meanwhile, is expected to start between the sticks for England against Croatia on Sunday, and James insists he has shown great character after the incident with Van Dijk.

Pickford's challenge on Van Dijk left the Dutchman with a ruptured ACL
(Image: PA)

“It was a foul, in my opinion, but it's something that Jordan was always doing or naturally does – there was no intent to hurt anybody,” the former Three Lions star told Goal .

“For Jordan that could in part have had an impact on some indifferent form because ultimately it was Liverpool's Van Dijk.

“It wasn't some young defender from Fulham who most people wouldn't have recognised, this was one of the world's best defenders from the Premier League champions so the conversation would just rumble on and on.

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“For him to come through that and to be in the form that he was at the end of the season going into the tournament, that shows a positive mark of maturity from him.”

James also heaped praise on Pickford, 27, for his performances at international level, highlighting the energy he brings to Gareth Southgate's side.

“There has to be a sweet spot for any player. Some of them are calm, some are more energetic,” James added.

Do you agree that Jordan Pickford has matured since the fateful Virgil van Dijk challenge? Have your say in the comments.

“When it comes to England, he's played marvellously well. All this energetic behaviour to get himself pumped up, it works for England.

“Jordan doing whatever he needs to do to get England over the line is not a problem.”

Pickford recently opened up on how using a sports psychologist has helped his composure this season, telling the Daily Telegraph : “I began working with one at the start of the season,

“You know in football, as with any sport, those little one or two per cent gains – just to raise your ability on the pitch and what you can achieve – are crucial.

“Investing in your body is crucial. Whether it’s nutrition, psychology, extra gym sessions. I think it helps. So why not use it?”

Pickford has won 31 caps for England since making his debut in 2017, while he kept 10 clean sheets in the Premier League this season across 31 appearances.