Jordan Pickford laughed off a hand injury sustained on Saturday, declaring himself “a man, not a mouse” after his man of the match performance in England’s quarter-final victory over Sweden.
The goalkeeper picked up his first clean sheet of the World Cup in England’s 2-0 victory, which sent the nation to the semi-finals for the first time since 1990.
While the Three Lions controlled the match, Pickford was still called upon to make a couple of key saves in order to preserve the victory.
After the game Pickford was spotted with a bandage on his hand, which sparked concerns for the keeper given his importance to the side in the knockout stages.
However, while he admitted the second-half injury was not picked up in the most graceful of manners, he isn’t about to let it stop him.
“It was a daft injury by myself,” Pickford told reporters. “I went to punch the floor and punched my knee, I hurt my thumb. But I'm a man not a mouse. I'm fine. I'll live another day – it's only a thumb.”
Pickford admitted the game against Sweden proved to be a contest unlike the shoot-out victory over Colombia, but ultimately, the fundamentals of his job are the same regardless of opposition.
“It's a different type of game. We don't want to be going into penalty shoot-outs every game,” Pickford said. “My job is to help the team and make them saves. As long as I’m in the right position, I give myself every chance to save them.
“So long as you're set in the right position, you'll give yourself best opportunity. That's what we work on – making these saves come a bit easier. It’s about being in the right position at the right time and that's what we're focus on.
“We do 600 saves a week just to make one save on a Saturday and that's what it's all about.”
Those all-important Saturday saves earned Pickford the man of the match award, and he’s already got it earmarked for place in his home.
“It'll go on my mantelpiece!” Pickford said. “It's about keeping performing and getting better and the more you play the better you become.”
Pickford and England have continued to do that thus far in Russia, exceeding expectations as their relatively young team made the Three Lions' first World Cup semi in 28 years.
However, Pickford noted that young doesn’t necessarily mean inexperienced, and the group is ready for whoever they will face in Moscow on Wednesday with a trip to the final on the line.
“We're young but we're an experienced young side. We know how to work and play for each other, we know our strengths and we know how to win,” Pickford said.
“Gaffer always said step by step – first thing get out the group stage, tough opponent versus Colombia then another against Sweden, so now whoever it'll be we'll plan and recover well before Wednesday.”