(Reuters) – Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford says his role as England’s number one has made him the target of unfair criticism.

Pickford let Christian Benteke’s equaliser slip under him in Everton’s 3-1 win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.

Former defender and television pundit Gary Neville slammed Pickford in September for laughing when Everton were 3-1 down against Manchester City, while others have highlighted his patchy form over the last 18 months.

“Everyone hates you, for some reason, that’s part of being an England player,” Pickford told British media.

“I think the press and everybody, the punters – look at Gary Neville – they just want to come for England players … as a person, I don’t let it affect me.”

Pickford said his error against Palace was a result of his leg getting stuck and he was lucky to escape injury.

“I’ve watched the goal. I’m lucky I haven’t done my cruciate (knee ligaments), to be honest. My foot planted,” he added. “I couldn’t get my leg out. It was stuck.”

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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