• England

Hart still England's No.1 - Hodgson

ESPN staff
November 7, 2013
Joe Hart has been dropped by Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini in recent weeks © Getty Images

England manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Joe Hart remains his first choice goalkeeper, even though he has lost his starting spot in the Manchester City line-up.

Hart was dropped by City boss Manuel Pellegrini after a string of high-profile errors, yet Hodgson had no hesitation in naming him in his England squad for the upcoming internationals against Chile and Germany.

"Joe will defiantly start one [of the matches] as he is our No. 1 goalkeeper," confirmed Hodgson at a Wembley press conference to announce his squad for the two friendly games at Wembley. "He might start against Germany, but I won't be pinned down on that."

Hodgson stressed that his decision to hand either Celtic's Fraser Forster or Norwich stopper John Ruddy a start in the game against Chile does not suggest he is considering a change to his own first choice position in the England squad, as he insisted his opinion over Hart's abilities have not been affected by his current problems at club level.

"Every manager must manage his club in the way he sees best to manage his club," stated Hodgson. "I do the same. I look at the English goalkeepers who are available to play and then I pick the best one. Up to now that has been Joe Hart, but Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City are entitled to do whatever he wants with his club.

"It is November. He made a mistake or possibly two mistakes. As a result of those mistakes, the [Manchester City] manager has made his decision. I would be a lot more concerned if Joe Hart never got his place back and if in the spring of next year when I have to select 23 players he was a constant reserve. I will cross that bridge when I come back. I firmly believe Joe is such a good goalkeeper he will get back in the team.

"We are happy we have got three goalkeepers. Fraser Forster has not been held back by the SPL, he has been held back by Joe Hart. Goalkeepers can find themselves behind the number one through no fault of their own. I want to put a word in with John Ruddy as well. It is up to me to decide which is number one.

"It is important for me to look at one of the other to goalkeepers, possibly both, so that is what I intend to do."

Hodgson went on to explain his thinking behind the move to hand Southampton's Jay Rodriguez his first England call-up, with the presence of his club colleague Adam Lallana highlighting the rise to prominence of the Saints in the Premier League this season.

"We see Rodriguez as someone who could fill the Danny Welbeck role," he said. "He is a wide forward, likes to attack players with the ball and get into the penalty box. This is an interesting opportunity to get to know a little bit more about him as all the information we have about him at the moment has come from [watching him in] the stands.

"As for Adam Lallana, he was with us once a long time ago. We have been following him very closely. He has played a major part in their [Southampton's] rise up the table, he is a major cog and is playing very well."

Hodgson went on to explain his decision to include Arsenal's Jack Wilshere in his latest squad, despite the ongoing injury problems afflicting the 21-year-old midfielder.

"We are in constant discussions with Arsenal, talking to their medical staff over Jack," added Hodgson "We know he is in a period where is ankle is being constantly assessed. I have left a message with Arsene and we will monitor the situation on a daily basis. If he plays at the weekend, there will be nothing more to discuss.

"This is not to do with his previous ankle problems. This is a kick on his ankle and the inflammation needs to calm down. Arsene is not adverse to me playing in one of these games and it is a question of whether he is fit enough."

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