He’s England’s last line of defence in their bid for Euro 2020 glory.

But seven years ago Jordan Pickford faced a different challenge – trying to help Carlisle United avoid relegation.

The goalkeeper was a young loanee signed by the Cumbrians in the second half of the 2013/14 League One season.

Then just 19, the highly-rated young Sunderland player went on to make 18 appearances for Graham Kavanagh’s United team.

That followed his arrival in early February 2014, at a time United were aiming to pull clear of danger, Pickford having spent the early months of that campaign with Burton Albion.

He went straight into the side at a time regular No1 Mark Gillespie was injured. United’s other keepers at the time were Greg Fleming and, briefly, Dean Bouzanis.

Here’s a game-by-game look at how England’s No1 fared for the Blues.

February 8 – Carlisle 1 Gillingham 2

News and Star: Pickford with the ball on his Blues debut (photo: David Hollins)Pickford with the ball on his Blues debut (photo: David Hollins)

A positive debut even in defeat. Pickford, twice beaten by Joe Pigott and Cody McDonald, claimed crosses well and made a couple of excellent saves. Was fortunate not to concede a penalty but it was a bright start overall. Manager Kavanagh, speaking after the game, confidently predicted Pickford would play at the very top.

February 11 – Carlisle 1 Bradford 0

News and Star: Pickford tries to claim a cross against Bradford (photo: Barbara Abbott)Pickford tries to claim a cross against Bradford (photo: Barbara Abbott)

A first clean sheet for Pickford, achieved with little fuss or danger. Did not have many serious saves to make, but was alert to keep out a Gary Jones effort and later claw a cross from beneath his bar. Again caught the eye with his command of his area as Lee Miller’s overhead kick earned the Blues victory.

February 18 – Coventry 1 Carlisle 2

In a game played at Northampton’s Sixfields Stadium, Pickford played an outstanding part in a win which seemed to have put the Blues clear of trouble. After Franck Moussa’s shot proved too strong for his attempted save, the keeper pulled off some fine stops to deny Moussa and Cyrus Christie, as Liam Noble and Sam Byrne hit back to earn Carlisle victory against Steven Pressley's Coventry.

February 22 – Carlisle 1 Rotherham 2

Came hurtling out of his box to try and help United’s retreating defenders deal with a long ball, but a three-man collision and resulting ricochet enabled Wes Thomas to give the Millers the lead. Pickford, though, recovered well, making some good saves before being beaten by Kieran Agard’s smart late winner.

March 1 – Carlisle 0 Brentford 0

News and Star: Pickford is at full stretch to keep a clean sheet against Brentford at Brunton Park (photo: Jonny Becker)Pickford is at full stretch to keep a clean sheet against Brentford at Brunton Park (photo: Jonny Becker)

A solid defensive performance, marshalled superbly by the veteran Pascal Chimbonda, ensured Pickford’s goal was well protected. But the keeper still played his part by punching well and making one good flying save from Alan Judge, to claim a second United clean sheet against the promotion-chasers.

March 8 – Port Vale 2 Carlisle 1

News and Star: The keeper makes an acrobatic save at Vale Park (photo: Barbara Abbott)The keeper makes an acrobatic save at Vale Park (photo: Barbara Abbott)

United’s foundations were brittle as Port Vale came from behind to score through Williamson and Pope, the former drilling inside the near post and the latter unmarked to bury an unstoppable header. Pickford, tested by a strong wind, later made a superb save to tip a Pope header against the bar.

March 12 – Sheffield United 1 Carlisle 0

News and Star: Jose Baxter's shot beats Pickford at Bramall Lane (photo: Barbara Abbott)Jose Baxter's shot beats Pickford at Bramall Lane (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Pickford made some valiant contributions, saving well from Jamie Murphy and future Blues man Stefan Scougall, but was beaten when two of his current England team-mates – Harry Maguire and Conor Coady – combined to put Jose Baxter in to score as Carlisle came unstuck at Bramall Lane.

March 15 – Carlisle 0 Stevenage 0

News and Star: Pickford takes to the pitch ahead of another clean sheet against Stevenage (photo: Stuart Walker)Pickford takes to the pitch ahead of another clean sheet against Stevenage (photo: Stuart Walker)

Pickford recorded a third clean sheet in a game which was more about Carlisle’s inability to score. Against fellow strugglers, United’s lack of firepower overshadowed their solid defensive efforts, which required Pickford to punch cleanly and save routine shots, but little else.

March 22 – Notts County 4 Carlisle 1

News and Star: Pickford tries to smother the ball under pressure at Notts County (photo: Barbara Abbott)Pickford tries to smother the ball under pressure at Notts County (photo: Barbara Abbott)

United’s season was now unravelling and this was a hollow defeat at Meadow Lane against a relegation rival. United were undone by poor marking and brittle defending as Notts ran up four goals, including a spectacular overhead fourth from future Blues defender Gary Liddle. Pickford made a couple of good saves and was largely blameless in the Blues’ collapse.

March 25 – Carlisle 0 Shrewsbury 0

Another clean sheet, another Brunton goalless draw. Pickford did his side of the bargain with some good stops and solid punches. One error almost let in the Shrews’ Aaron Wildig, but it was otherwise another steady showing as Carlisle drew a blank upfield.

March 29 – Tranmere 0 Carlisle 0

News and Star: Pickford beats Tranmere's Ryan Lowe to the ball (photo: Barbara Abbott)Pickford beats Tranmere's Ryan Lowe to the ball (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Another good defensive display saw Pickford make an uncertain start before growing in confidence, kicking well and looking sharp in all his duties. Again, United’s issues were further forward in the Prenton Park stalemate.

April 5 – Carlisle 1 Swindon 0

News and Star: Pickford stretches for the ball ahead of Swindon's Troy Archibald-Henville (photo: Barbara Abbott)Pickford stretches for the ball ahead of Swindon's Troy Archibald-Henville (photo: Barbara Abbott)

While the returning Gary Madine grabbed the headlines with the only goal, their young loan keeper had a largely quiet day against play-off chasing opponents. Made a couple of solid saves as Carlisle picked up an important win and continued to look impressively assured for such a young keeper.

April 12 – Preston 6 Carlisle 1

News and Star: Preston's Craig Davies fires past Pickford (photo: Barbara Abbott)Preston's Craig Davies fires past Pickford (photo: Barbara Abbott)

Not a day fondly remembered – either by team or keeper. The first real blot on Pickford’s Carlisle loan spell came when he failed to hold a cross, enabling Lee Holmes to put Preston 3-1 up. The Lilywhites then went on to blast the limp Blues out of sight, Craig Davies hitting a hat-trick.

April 18 – Carlisle 1 Walsall 1

News and Star: A diving Pickford keeps out Walsall (photo: Stuart Walker)A diving Pickford keeps out Walsall (photo: Stuart Walker)

This game saw the keeper bounce back well from his Deepdale nightmare. Pickford made good saves from the Saddlers’ Andy Butler and Romaine Sawyers and was one of United’s better players, before Kavanagh’s sliding side were denied victory by Michael Ngoo’s towering late header.

April 21 – Peterborough 4 Carlisle 1

News and Star: Pickford looks on from his goalmouth as United and Peterborough battle (photo: Barbara Abbott)Pickford looks on from his goalmouth as United and Peterborough battle (photo: Barbara Abbott)

One of those days when relegation was starting to look inevitable. An Easter hiding at London Road saw a makeshift Blues team reliant on Pickford to save from Lloyd Isgrove. But the keeper upended Britt Assombalonga for a Posh penalty, and was later unfortunate to be beaten by Michael Bostwick’s deflected fourth as United went under.

April 26 – Carlisle 0 Oldham 1

News and Star: Pickford holds on against Oldham (photo: Jonny Becker)Pickford holds on against Oldham (photo: Jonny Becker)

An exasperating day that all but confirmed the drop, even if Pickford did little wrong in goal. Oldham knifed through for the winner through James Dayton, before the young keeper came forward for a couple of late Blues corners - but couldn’t emulate Jimmy Glass.

April 29 – Crawley 0 Carlisle 0

The seventh and last clean sheet of Pickford’s United spell came in Sussex, where the Sunderland loanee made good stops from the home side’s frontmen, Matt Tubbs and Jamie Proctor. Protected his goal valiantly, but again United’s sterility in attack left them all but doomed.

May 3 – Wolves 3 Carlisle 0

News and Star: Pickford tries to keep out Wolves' Nouha Dicko (photo: Barbara Abbott)Pickford tries to keep out Wolves' Nouha Dicko (photo: Barbara Abbott)

A brutal end to United’s failed season, and to Pickford’s time with the Blues. Beaten at his near post by Sam Ricketts, but he could do little about Wolves’ later goals, receiving scant protection when Michael Jacobs and Nouha Dicko scored for the champions. Made one last injury-time stop from Jack Price before departing the League Two-bound Blues. Pickford’s clear potential then took him to loans with Bradford and Preston before eventual first-team stardom at Sunderland led him to Everton – and England.