Manchester City keeper Joe Hart has come in for some criticism recently for his display in the Citizens 3-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.
Hart made an error for the opening goal and questions are now being asked about whether he should still be England number one.
Joe Hart is a guy that seems to exude confidence, but maybe within the last few years he has got slightly complacent.
He knows that he is first choice for both City and England and that has not helped his form.
Where is his real competition? He knows that he is better than the other keepers at City and most of his English counterparts.
However, maybe he needs a reminder that he is not irreplaceable. The shock may just lead him to work harder at cutting out those costly mistakes.
Every keeper makes mistakes they are only human after all. However, the truly top ones make very few mistakes and work hard maintaining their levels of concentration.
There has been a real dearth of top quality English goalkeepers in recent years. That is why Joe Hart’s emergence first on-loan at Birmingham and then Manchester City was so well received by everybody involved in the England national setup.
Finally England had a keeper who appeared to have all the attributes of a top-class keeper. Hart looked like the real deal. He is still a top keeper, but he needs to find a way of avoiding mistakes and costing his team matches.
Hart’s current competition for the England number one jersey is Celtic’s Fraser Forster and Norwich’s John Ruddy. West Brom keeper Ben Foster had been in good form, prior to picking up a relatively long-term injury.
Highly-rated youngster Jack Butland of Stoke is second choice at the Britannia to Bosnian keeper Asmir Begovic, but the former-Birmingham keeper has just finished a loan stint in the Championship with Barnsley.
The most likely keeper to push Hart for that number one spot at the moment seems to be Forster. The former-Newcastle keeper has been in impressive form and recently produced another superb display against Barcelona in the Champions League.
Some will say that playing in the SPL may restrict his chances, because he may not be as visible as some of the other English keepers who ply their trade in the Premier League.
However, playing in the SPL has obviously not harmed his chances of international recognition that much. Forster is in the Three Lions squad for the vital World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland.
Norwich keeper Ruddy is also in the squad. The former-Everton keeper had started to build a big reputation for himself, but missed a chunk of last season through injury. That injury probably curtailed the keepers’ development.
Maybe had he been fit for the whole of last season, he would be closer to challenging Hart for the number one spot with England. As it is I do not think he is ready to challenge Hart just yet.
England boss Roy Hodgson has come out and backed Joe Hart. Telling Sky Sports: “He kept clean sheets against Moldova and Ukraine,”
“We have let in three goals in eight games so it’ll take a lot more than one bad game from any player before I start suggesting he is replaced by somebody.
“He is clearly the number one. We’re pleased with Fraser, we think he’s done really, really well and I think he’s got a great future.
“But certainly I think it will be a mistake to suggest he should be given the responsibility of these two vitally important games”.
It seems that the England boss is not ready to drop Hart just yet, but rates Forster. I can understand his thinking on not playing Forster in the two remaining games. He is untried at international level and if he made a mistake then it may ruin his international career.
Hodgson would also be criticised for playing an untried keeper in such important games. I can understand the former-West Brom’s boss’ decision.
Joe Hart is far from a poor keeper, but he should not be considered untouchable. The City keeper has to have the required competition to push him to improve and progress. If he does not then he will keep making mistakes, to the detriment of both England and Manchester City.
Should Joe Hart still be England’s number one?