March 22, 2018

Hart welcomes battle to be England’s number one

Hart welcomes battle to be England’s number one

England’s goalkeeper Joe Hart reacts after England lost 1-2 to Iceland in the Euro 2016 round of 16 football match between England and Iceland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on June 27, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS

England goalkeeper Joe Hart insists having to fight to retain his place as Gareth Southgate’s number one for the World Cup is nothing new.

England’s goalkeeper Joe Hart

Hart’s chances of maintaining a starting spot in this summer’s showpiece in Russia have been damaged by a lack of playing time on loan at West Ham this season.

The 30-year-old made his first Premier League appearance since November in a 3-0 defeat by Burnley earlier this month in a match overshadowed by crowd trouble as West Ham slipped closer to the relegation zone.

Hart was at fault for Burnley’s third goal, but is hoping to keep his place at club level for the rest of the season to boost his chances of making Southgate’s World Cup squad.

“Since Gareth has been in charge he’s always said I’ve performed really well for him,” said Hart.

“He seems like a loyal guy but the shirt is up for grabs. There are three goalkeeper places and there are some people performing well in the Premier League.

“Hopefully I’ve got my place back now and we’ll see where we go with that.”

Southgate has included three other goalkeepers in his squad for World Cup warm-up friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy this week in Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope.

However all three lack international experience compared to Hart’s 75 caps, earned over a 10-year international career.

“It is no different to any moment that I’ve been playing football. Even when I was trying to get into my Sunday league team, it was the same script: people want to play football. That’s no different to the one here.

“I am not here to answer critics. I am here to play football, enjoy what I do and try and help my team the best way I can.”