Joe Hart trying to ‘channel’ passion after Euros nightmare
On-loan City ‘keeper: ‘Obviously the European Championship wasn’t my finest hour’
Joe Hart has said he is trying to channel his passion after a difficult European Championships. Photograph: Reuters/John Sibley
Joe Hart has admitted he was so pumped up for matches at Euro 2016 that his performances may have suffered and is reassessing how he channels his passion.
The Torino goalkeeper, yet to concede a goal in the World Cup qualifying campaign, will start Tuesday’s friendly against Spain as Gareth Southgate completes his four-match interim stewardship of the senior side. Wayne Rooney withdrew from the squad on Monday night with a minor knee injury, with Jamie Vardy expected to play a part up front and Jordan Henderson taking the captaincy.
Hart is braced to be busier on the occasion of his 68th cap than he was against Scotland last Friday, but has insisted he is a calmer character than in France. His pre-match histrionics at the tournament, screaming at players and himself, fell flat with high-profile errors against Wales and Iceland.
The 29-year-old spoke about his approach at length with Southgate before last month’s qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia, when he was outstanding. “I’m always trying to learn and adapt, and obviously the European Championship wasn’t my finest hour,” said Hart. “I needed to have a think and pick apart how I played and what I did, and maybe change a few things speaking to the people who count. Seeking advice. Even with Gareth, we spoke about it.
“I’ve got a lot of energy, a lot of passion. Questionably, it could have been too much. But there are ways of channelling that. I’m constantly changing and evolving, trying to be the best I can be, and learning from things that didn’t go too well is definitely a way of doing that. There’s nothing wrong with [BEING]positive. Being passionate and proud of your country is definitely a positive. But there are just different ways of channelling it. I’ve looked into that, and hopefully it will help.”
The goalkeeper, who is learning Italian to help his adjustment to life at Torino during his loan spell from Manchester City, sought advice from friends, family and others close to him when deciding to change his approach. “I’ve got plenty of people I can turn to, a core of people around me,” he said. “Everyone does it as you get older: you have people you trust, people you listen to. I’m really grateful to the people I’ve got. I’ve always said I might be wrong or I might be right to trust in these people, but I do. And as a team we try and grow. And that includes managers and coaches and players and friends.”
Vardy, who came on for the last 15 minutes against Scotland but has not scored for Leicester City since September, is set to start for the first time since the frustrating draw with Slovakia in Saint-Étienne in June. There may be a role, too, for Jesse Lingard as part of the attacking trio at the striker’s back, with Nathaniel Clyne recalled at right-back but Ryan Bertrand unlikely to be risked having sat out training, along with Rooney, after suffering a minor injury. Aaron Cresswell of West Ham United and Burnley’s Michael Keane will expect to gain their first caps but neither will start.
Southgate, the overwhelming favourite to be appointed England’s manager on a permanent basis, will ask his players to express themselves against Spain rather than merely “go solid, soak up pressure, hit them on the break and play all our experienced players”. He is prepared for his charges to take risks in possession and make the occasional mistake as part of a long-term development of the team’s style.
“I’m 100% committed to my team and I believe 100% in the players in front of me,” said Hart, who watched John Stones in particular risk surrendering the ball in dangerous areas against Scotland. “The way we play and the way we build up does carry an element of risk, but there are a lot of benefits to it. And even when we did lose the ball in certain situations on Friday, the power and athleticism and desire to get back …
“If we didn’t have that then maybe I’d be thinking: ‘We need to be careful here’ but I know people are going to commit. Scotland didn’t have any free shots, even when we lost the ball 20 yards out and there was potentially a shot on goal. There were three people hunting them down.”
England (4-2-3-1; probable): Hart; Clyne, Cahill, Stones, Rose; Dier, Henderson; Sterling, Lallana, Lingard; Vardy.