Injury forces Pickford removal

29 August 2017 04:59:33 EST

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will miss England's World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia due to a muscle injury.

The uncapped 23-year-old had won a first senior call-up after making a fine start to his time with the Toffees, having conceded four goals in six games played so far this season.

However, he has now returned to his club for treatment, having sustained the problem during the 2-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Pickford's absence leaves England head coach Gareth Southgate to select from the three remaining goalkeepers in his now 27-man squad - Jack Butland, Joe Hart and Tom Heaton.

An FA statement confirmed: "Jordan Pickford has left the England camp and returned to Everton.

"Having reported to St. George's Park on Sunday evening, the 23-year-old underwent an assessment on a muscle injury sustained playing for his club.

"After discussions between England and Everton medics, it was decided it was in the player's best interests to return to Finch Farm for further treatment.

"Gareth Southgate will now prepare for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia with the remaining three goalkeepers in his 27-man squad."

England currently top Group F of European qualifying for the 2018 world Cup finals in Russia, but are only two points ahead of Slovakia and three clear of third-placed Slovenia.

They are away to Malta on Friday evening, before playing host to Slovakia at Wembley on Monday evening.

The Three Lions are 1/50 to top Group F, while they are 20/1 to win the World Cup next summer, with Pickford 4/11 to be included in the squad for that tournament.

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