Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hart to stay in goal for England as Southgate hints at Rashford start

SoccerNews in World Cup 3 Sep 2017

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England goalkeeper Joe Hart will keep his place against Slovakia, while Marcus Rashford may have forced his way into the starting line-up.

Manager Gareth Southgate suggested Rashford, a second-half substitute in Friday’s 4-0 win in Malta, had likely done enough to earn a place in the first XI after a lively performance that included an assist for Harry Kane’s second goal.

Hart, meanwhile, will play again as he did against Malta despite criticism of his club form. Jack Butland and Tom Heaton are the other goalkeepers in the 26-man squad.

Southgate said to BBC Sport: “The core of the team will stay the same. Joe will stay as the goalkeeper.”

On Rashford, who replaced Raheem Sterling with the match level at 0-0 against Malta, Southgate said: “He is a talent with high potential and we really like his mentality.

“He has been playing very well for Manchester United this season and we wouldn’t hesitate to start him.

“Starting him was a possibility in Malta but he missed some of the training, not only with us but the week before with his club. We have been looking after him a bit.

“I have a lovely dilemma with regard to our attacking positions. We made three excellent changes the other night and got a very positive reaction and I also had Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe sat next to me.”

Southgate, who has all of his players available, is expected to bring Eric Dier back into the team after suspension. He earlier confirmed Phil Jones and captain Jordan Henderson will start.

England are two points clear of closest rivals Slovakia at the top of Group F and a victory would put them on the brink of sealing their place in Russia, while defeat would see them lose top spot.

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