Courtesy of Sunderland AFC
Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford says he is reaping the benefits from his current loan spell at League Two side Burton Albion.
Washington-born Pickford says the experience of playing in front of crowds as big as 7,000 as well as the added importance of three points at senior level is beginning to make genuine improvements to his character.
And the England U19 international told safc.com the experience at the Pirelli Stadium is exactly what he needed.
“Playing league football every Saturday and playing for three points is much better for my development,” Pickford said.
“We get around 3,000 fans at Burton and last week we played in front of 7,000 at Chesterfield in their new stadium so having to deal with the pressure is a new experience for me.
“Equally, the players you play with are often young lads or players who have been released from bigger clubs so they are playing for their careers and that means you have to concentrate and deal with pressures because you don’t want to make mistakes and let them down.”
The Brewers currently lie eighth in League Two after winning back-to-back games against Chesterfield and Torquay United.
And a win against high-flying Exeter on Saturday would push Gary Rowett’s side into the promotion places, a position Pickford believes is a very realistic aim for the Staffordshire side.
“The win at Chesterfield was exactly what we needed; it was an absolutely brilliant result for us,” he added.
“We’d not had much luck in the previous matches so to go there and win against a side with ex-Premier League players in their side was superb.
“Obviously last year Burton finished fourth and lost out in the play-offs but that was probably slightly above expectation.
“This year I think it’s where we want to go because we’re a good team and we have proven we’re capable.”
Pickford’s move to the Pirelli Stadium has seen him move quite a distance from his north-east home but the youngster has found life in Burton easy after joining up with former Black Cats Adam Reed and Robbie Weir.
“It’s a challenge for me being away from my family but I have to deal with that as part of my development,” Pickford continued.
“I was in a hotel at first but I’ve moved in with Adam Reed now and that has really helped me settle in.
“I also know Robbie Weir from Sunderland so it has been nice going into a dressing room with a few familiar faces.”