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Pickford earns Young Player of the Year nomination

Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford Credit: PA

Sunderland's overworked goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has earned a nomination for 2017 PFA Young Player of the Year.

The 23-year-old is nominated for the Professional Footballers Association award alongside Everton's Romelu Lukaku, Manchester City's Leroy Sane, Totenham's Deli Alli and Harry Kare, as well as Burnley's Michael Keane.

Despite standing only 6ft 1in, Pickford has dealt with high balls as well, with 39 high takes and 16 punches ranking fifth and fourth in the league respectively.

Pickford beat Vito Mannone to the post to become the Black Cat's first team goalie and this year had his first England squad call up.

Number of shots at goal Jordan Pickford has saved this season.

The goalie has saved an impressive 108 goals this season which places him in second position in the top flight, beaten only by Burnley's Tom Heaton who saved 120.

'Is this the end?': SAFC fan blog

SAFC fan blog. Credit: ITV News

By Paul Dobson

Stop start might be how the fixtures are going, but our season could do with a start of any sort. At least the last international break gave us something - several things, actually - to smile about. If you like England's national team, the win was good. If you like SAFC, which you should, Defoe's resurrection as an England player was even better, and the goal was something that put a smile on a lot of faces - not just us Red and Whites, because JD has been re-invented as the nicest man in football thanks to his friendship with little Bradley. His leading out of the team with the little lad was a wonderful sight, and one that seems to have given him a unique place in the minds of the football world.

Perhaps the second-nicest man in football is now Duncy Watmore, who, it's emerged, was instrumental in saving three people from possible drowning after their boat sank in the Caribbean a while back. He has said nothing himself on the subject himself, but his dad let it slip this week. Well done, Duncan.

All of which is nice, but doesn't make the league table look any nicer. Ten games to go, and the break has given Catts the chance to be ready to get stuck in. While Anichebe is nearly there, we're very unlikely to see Kirchhoff again this season - or ever, unless someone does a bionic man job on him. Watford have been going under the radar for most of the season, being neither spectacularly good or spectacularly bad, but their BBC reporter reckons they might slip up against us. Most of us on Wearside are beyond expecting anything these days, as the last few seasons have caught up with us and battered us into emotional submission. This is probably why we, in general (I've seen you, Mr Angry), are not as upset as we have a right to be. Expectation is all relative, of course, as Arsenal fans have proved by going apoplectic about sitting sixth in the table and being in the FA Cup semi-final, and finishing second last year.

We obviously think it's hardly worth getting angry any more, and we've become expert at keeping our feelings hidden.

While it's was Defoe's health that we'd been concerned with during the internationals, it was O'Shea who needed sticking back together after that challenge by Bale. They managed to do that well enough for him to lead out the team, but that was as good as it got. With Palace and Hull winning, we ended up further adrift despite a bright start and a flurry of corners. Watford didn't need the help the officials seemed intent on giving them, and a failing by both resulted in the corner which became another corner and ended up in the net.

So here we are, drifting further from safety by the minute. We seem incapable of doing right for doing wrong, and despite bright patches today, there was nothing to suggest things are going to get better. Nine to go, but if we can't win games like today's there's precious little point being in the division. Is this the end? You decide, but I wouldn't bet against it.

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