Everton's Ancelotti says Pickford focused ahead of Southampton clash

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - UEFA Nations League - League A - Group 2 - England v Belgium - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 11, 2020 England's Jordan Pickford in action Pool via REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) - Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is unaffected by the intense criticism he has faced following a tackle on Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and will start Sunday's Premier League clash at Southampton.

Premier League champions Liverpool confirmed Van Dijk will undergo surgery on damaged knee ligaments after the challenge in last Saturday's Merseyside derby which ended in a 2-2 draw.

Pickford has since been blasted by pundits and Merseyside Police are investigating threats to him online, but Ancelotti said the England international had not let the incident hamper his preparations.

"He's going to play. I don't take into consideration to take him out," Ancelotti told reporters on Friday.

"I saw him in training this week and he was focused, he put in a good performance and was concentrated. This is what I want to see from a player.

"If he has a problem I want him to come to me to talk but he didn't come to me, so I think he's absolutely OK."

Pickford made a number of errors last season, prompting Ancelotti to sign Sweden international Robin Olsen on loan from Roma on transfer deadline day.

But the Italian manager was measured in his assessment of Pickford's form early in the current campaign.

"Sometimes he did well, sometimes he could do better. That's it," Ancelotti added.

"I think when we manage a performance, I'm used to looking at the right things, not only the wrong. I'm used to being cold and try to see what he did good and what he did wrong."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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