Rafael Benítez said Gareth Southgate should rest Jordan Pickford for England’s “nothing game” against Andorra next Saturday as the Everton goalkeeper recovers from injury.
Pickford missed Everton’s recent defeat at Aston Villa and Carabao Cup exit at QPR with a shoulder problem. He returned for last week’s win over Norwich, and is available for Saturday’s visit to Manchester United, but with the keeper feeling the effects of the injury during the defeat of Daniel Farke’s side, Benítez believes the World Cup qualifier provides an opportunity to rest Pickford and aid his recovery. Sam Johnstone and Aaron Ramsdale are the other keepers selected to face Andorra and Hungary.
The Everton manager said: “He is fit to play for us and he is fit to play for England. I don’t want to be disrespectful but some of the games are nothing games and so I think it is easy to manage. Of the two games that they have, I would say for one of them they can manage.”
Everton continue to have injury problems, with Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and the captain, Séamus Coleman, sidelined. Benítez is likely to face his former Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday and, despite the veteran’s impressive impact, insists United cannot rely on one world-class talent to challenge for the title.
“If you have a player that can win you a game then you try to manage the players around him so that, if he is a finisher like Cristiano, you give him the balls,” Benítez said. “It is as simple as that. You have to try to find him in the right position, and give him a lot of assists and crosses. But normally, if you want to win titles and compete during the season, you cannot rely on one player because if he gets injured it is a massive problem.
“You have to have a structure and a team that is strong enough. These type of players, these individuals, make a team better but the team has to be strong. If you depend on one player maybe you can be lucky one year or two, but you cannot win trophies if you do not have good players around the best players.”