sport

Pickford eyeing loan push

Jordan Pickford intends to use a loan spell at Carlisle as an opportunity to push himself into contention at Sunderland.

The 19-year-old goalkeeper has linked up with the Cumbrians on a one-month agreement.

He is hoping to see regular game time during his stint in League 1, allowing him to catch the eye of Black Cats boss Gus Poyet.

Sunderland moved to bring in Argentine shot-stopper Oscar Ustari in January as cover for first-choice Vito Mannone, but Pickford believes he is capable of forcing his way up the pecking order at the Stadium of Light.

He told the Sunderland Echo: "My overall aim is to get into the first team at Sunderland, but I know I need to take things step by step.

"Hopefully that approach will bring success and I'll get some games for Sunderland.

"I think I'm close to 40 competitive games now, so I just want to get as many more as possible under my belt and hopefully it will all pay off.

"I was only just 17 when I went to Darlington, so that was a really good learning curve for me.

"I was playing in the reserves last season before I got the chance to go to Alfreton in February. I really enjoyed my football there and I felt I played well.

"Burton was another step up, which really helped me, so I'm looking forward to this period now.

"Playing games really helps with confidence and as you get into the loan spell you can feel yourself learning and maturing as a keeper.

"You learn when to come for things and when not to, so I think maturity is one of the main things I'm gaining from these loan spells.

"The staff at Sunderland have just told me to do what they know I'm capable of doing. I'll just keep my head down and be as good as I can be. Hopefully that will bring some good performances."