Jordan Pickford fully deserves his place as England’s number one, ahead of their vital World Cup meeting with Colombia tonight.

That is the view of his former Sunderland team-mate Mikael Mandron, who says the young goalkeeper merits his spot in Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up for the second-round meeting in Moscow.

Colchester United striker Mandron knows Pickford well, with the pair having progressed through the academy ranks at the Stadium of Light together and playing at under-18 and under-21 level, before breaking into the Black Cats’ first team.

Pickford has received criticism in some quarters following his performance in England’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium, in their final Group G game.

However, striker Mandron is adamant the Everton keeper is fully worthy of his place in the Three Lions side, at the Spartak Stadium.

Mandron told the Daily Gazette: “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 is also a former Sunderland team-mate of Danny Rose, who is part of the England squad in Russia.

“I played with Danny Rose a little bit at Sunderland,” said Mandron.

“He’s a really nice guy and I enjoyed being his team-mate when we were there.”

Mandron, who was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer, is rooting for his home country France who progressed to the quarter-finals with victory over Argentina.

He added: “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!

“It’s been a fantastic World Cup and there have been lots of matches that you wouldn’t normally expect to be good but you end up watching and really enjoying.”