Pickford is currently the favorite to serve as the Three Lions first-choice shot-stopper at the event after he started the recent 2-1 friendly international victory over Nigeria. Manager Gareth Southgate also referred to the selection as a ”statement”.
Kirkland knows Pickford, having previously worked with him while the two were at Preston North End.
The 24-year-old had a career breakthrough with Preston during the 2015-16 season as he went on to make 27 appearances.
The following season, he earned a move to then Premier League side Sunderland and this was where he managed to establish himself as one of the top keepers in the Premier League and put himself on the England radar.
Though there have been question marks raised over Pickford’s ability to perform in Russia due to his inexperience at international level, Kirkland however, believes that he will be up to the task.
“I’m a big fan of Jordan, having played and trained with him at Preston,” Kirkland told Goal. “He’s probably the best I’ve ever worked with. I expect and hope that he starts in the World Cup.
“He’s fearless, and he’s got that incredible self-belief which you need as a goalkeeper. I always say that I wish I had a bit more of it when I was playing.
“He has the mentality to handle playing for England at a World Cup, for sure. It’s not easy to play at a major tournament, where everybody is on your back, but he’s the right kind of character.”