• World Cup qualifiers

Hodgson: Hart to start for England

ESPN staff
March 17, 2013
England manager Roy Hodgson has praised the return of Ben Foster © PA Photos

England boss Roy Hodgson has shot down the returning Ben Foster's hopes of starting for the Three Lions in the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro after declaring Joe Hart remains his No. 1 goalkeeper.

Foster returns to the England fold after a self-imposed exile that began after a 2-1 defeat to France in 2010.

But Hodgson has confirmed it will be a return to the England bench for the West Brom 'keeper, keeping faith with Manchester City's Hart.

However, the former Liverpool, Fulham and West Brom boss was delighted Foster had returned from the international wilderness.

"At the moment, Joe Hart is the No. 1 as far as I'm concerned," Hodgson said.

"I'm not suggesting when they come to training on Monday it is going to be a fight to see who can get the gloves.

"Joe Hart has got hold of the shirt. It will be up to Ben, I suppose, to try and get the shirt from him. But it is nice to have Ben there making that attempt.

"I don't think Joe would ever take his place for granted. I think that would be a harsh criticism of him.

"I've been more than happy with Joe Hart as England's number one 'keeper. He is a very good 'keeper.

"But, if you can have two good 'keepers in your squad, you don't turn down the opportunity.

"It is more a question now of having available a 'keeper who is a) experienced and b) in good form and playing well for his team, a team that is doing very well in the Premier League.

"It is a good situation because you never know with a 'keeper what is going to happen, even during the course of a game."

Despite Hodgson's confidence in Hart, the 25-year-old has come under fire from his club manager Roberto Mancini for a number of recent lacklustre performances.

But Hodgson said what may not have been adequate for City, has been essential for England.

"You will have to ask Joe (about Mancini's criticism). You are referring to a situation at club level which is out of my domain. That is between him and his manager, " Hodgson said.

"He has not let me down playing for England. He is a good 'keeper.

"Not many people would contest he is the number one 'keeper in the country and I'm happy to have him.

"How it's affecting him, he doesn't seem to be playing that badly and when I've seen him, he's done well."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.