Jordan Pickford targets win over Belgium and top spot in Group G

Jordan Pickford says England are targeting first place in Group G and dismissed suggestions that finishing second may be more beneficial.

The runners-up in England’s group could potentially avoid some of the World Cup big hitters until the latter stages, but Pickford wants to progress as group winners by beating Belgium in Kaliningrad on Thursday.

“Our mentality is to win every game we play – and we want to win every game,” said the goalkeeper.

“I feel that if we win every game it just keeps building momentum to keep going in the tournament.

“We know Belgium are a tough opponent and we need to be on our A-game to get the win. I feel our squad want to win every game so we can’t be looking into [finishing second].”

While Pickford is yet to claim his maiden World Cup clean sheet, the 24-year-old knows keeping out the opposition will become increasingly important the further England progress.

1:20 Dennis Wise picks his England starting XI for Thursday's game against Belgium

“It was a bit disappointing not to get a clean sheet against Panama,” he said, “but it is a team performance and six goals, five in the first half, was an unbelievable performance.

“As defenders, goalkeepers, as a whole team, we want to keep clean sheets and I think the further we go in the tournament, clean sheets win games and that is our mentality.”

5:24 Former England defender Gary Neville says VAR is 'imperfect' but insists the system is working well

Given progression from Group G is assured, the main question heading into the Belgium encounter is whether or not England manager Gareth Southgate will make a number of alterations to his side.

Pickford could be one of those who is rotated, with Jack Butland a potential replacement, and he feels the whole squad is ready to perform when called upon.

“It is a team game, there are 23 players and all 23 who are in the squad are fighting for their places,” he said.

“It is so tough to call who is going to play because the ability in the squad is unbelievable and that is what will take us as far as we can go.”