Hodgson says Hart is in ‘right frame of mind’ ahead of meeting with Brazil
Goalkeeper has been dropped by Manchester City but will start tomorrow’s friendly
Joe Hart: has a chance to re-establish his credentials. (Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Roy Hodgson expects Joe Hart to re-establish his credentials as England’s premier goalkeeper when the player, enduring a spell out of the Manchester City first team, seeks to make his mark against Germany.
Hart will start tomorrow’s friendly at Wembley having spent more than three weeks stewing over the series of high-profile mistakes which served to cast him out of the side at City.
His club manager, Manuel Pellegrini, withdrew the 26-year-old from the fray after confusion with the centre-half Matija Nastasic led to Chelsea’s last-minute winner in a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge last month. That left the England goalkeeper on the bench for four matches before he watched Fraser Forster make his international debut in Friday’s defeat by Chile.
“But he is in the right frame of mind,” said Hodgson, who has made no secret of his belief that Hart remains first choice for the national team.
“This is what being England manager has been like for me for the last 18 months, selecting players who haven’t played for a couple of weeks. Jermain Defoe played on Friday and he hasn’t played for hardly any part of the season, unless you count the odd minute here and there, and you count the Europa League. That is what we have.
“We aren’t in the situation where I can only pick players who are playing regularly 90 minutes for their team. We don’t have enough players for me to do that. But I am more than happy that Joe is ready. He will be anxious to seize his chance and anxious to show everyone that he is still a very good goalkeeper.”
Hart would concede that his form over recent months has handed rivals, with club and country, an opportunity to stake their claim for his place in the side, even if he essentially remains calm, rather than flustered, over his form.
He is adapting to a new manager, in Pellegrini, whose demand for a higher defensive line has placed more emphasis on the goalkeeper to act almost as a sweeper.
That has forced him to make tweaks to his game, changes overseen by the latest City goalkeeping coach, Xabier Mancisidor, while the constant chopping and changing in front of him – there have been seven different centre-back combinations in 11 league games this season – has hardly helped. The confusion with Nastasic was as much born of a lack of communication between the two than poor judgment from Hart.
His record remains impressive, with 21 clean sheets in his last 46 Premier League matches and four in succession with England.
Hodgson described Hart’s attitude and performance in training since the squad met up last week as good and has taken reports from the England set-up’s goalkeeping coach, Dave Watson, to ensure the player is in the right frame of mind for the visit of Germany.
Watson remains something of a mentor to Hart, stemming from the time they spent working together as coach and young loanee at Birmingham City, and he has been a constant at this level while staff with his club at the Etihad have come and gone.