Tuesday, August 22, 2017

England finally have a real battle for the number one shirt

Joe Hart needs to perform at West Ham if he is to maintain his position as England number one

England number one Joe Hart moving back to the Premier League with West Ham will mean that the 30-year-old will be back in the glare of the British media.

The former Manchester City goalkeeper has come in for major criticism in recent years.

He will have to up his game in the new league campaign, as there are a number of talented goalkeepers just waiting to take his place in the England team for next year’s World Cup.

Here are just some of the alternatives to Hart for Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate:

Tom Heaton (Burnley)

The Burnley goalkeeper is actually older than Hart. However, he is a late bloomer in Premier League terms. Last season he was outstanding, as at times he almost single-handedly kept the Clarets in games.

His performance in a goalless draw at Manchester United last season was one of the standout displays from any goalkeeper in the Premier League in recent seasons.

Some may say he stands out in a relatively weak team. However, the Chester-born ‘keeper is a very reliable and solid last line of defence. Heaton kept 10 clean sheets in the English top-flight last season, despite his being one of the pre-season favourites for relegation.

Fraser Forster (Southampton)

Forster is a giant of a man, and at times, he has put in some monster performances for the Saints. Last season he was not at his best, yet he still managed to keep 14 clean sheets in a Southampton team that was injury-ravaged in defence for a period of the campaign.

Forster is undoubtedly a talented goalkeeper and will be looking for a far more consistency next season to boost his hopes of becoming England number one.

Jordan Pickford (Sunderland)

The youngster was one of the few bright spots for Sunderland last season. In fact, if it were not for Pickford’s presence between the sticks, the Black Cats would have been relegated long before they finally succumb.

The 23-year-old was brought into the Sunderland team early last season because of an injury to first choice goalkeeper Vito Mannone. However, he thrived and formed a one-man barrier to the opposition finding the net.

Incredibly, despite playing for the bottom team in the Premier League, Pickford saved 73 per cent of the shots fired at his goal. His performances earned him a big money summer move to Everton.

There is no doubt that the youngster can still improve, as he made a few mistakes last season. He will also suffer far more scrutiny at Everton than at Sunderland last season. However, from the evidence of his career so far, he has to be regarded as a future England number one.

Jack Butland (Stoke)

Last but not least is arguably the most promising young English goalkeeper of the lot Jack Butland. The Stoke goalkeeper has major promise, but last season barely featured for Stoke due to injury. In fact, he only returned to the Potters squad for the last five games of the season.

The 24-year-old was in the Three Lions most recent squad for their games against Scotland and France. Butland seems to have every quality needed in a top goalkeeper. Seemingly, all he has to do is maintain his progress and avoid injury if he is to become England number one in the future, although his contemporaries may have something to say about that.

Hart is under pressure for his place

England have not yet qualified for next year’s World Cup in Russia. However, they are odds of 1/41 to qualify for the big event next year. Gareth Southgate’s team needs a reliable goalkeeper if they wish to go deep into the competition.

There have been question marks over Hart’s reliability over the past few seasons. Hart has long enjoyed an almost free reign of being England number one. However, whether he starts for England in Russia will depend on how well he has done at West Ham.

If he underperforms and Southgate is brave enough to drop him there is a line of talented goalkeepers just waiting for their opportunity to impress.

Should Joe Hart continue to be England’s number one?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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