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FOUR England goalkeepers are better than Joe Hart – so why is he still number one?

Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Fraser Forster and Ben Foster should all be ahead of the West Ham man in the pecking order

I, like many fans, had the misfortune of sitting down to watch England huff and puff to a deeply depressing 1-0 win over Slovenia on Thursday night.

Aside from maybe Marcus Rashford, not a single Three Lions player looked cunning enough to unlock a resolute yet bang average visiting defence.


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But one aspect of Gareth Southgate’s line up really got to me.

Why do we still have to see this man between the sticks?

Reuters
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Why do we still have to see this man between the sticks?

Joe Hart actually deserves some credit for a brave double save near the end last night that spared England even more blushes.

But there’s a reason why not a single ‘elite’ club even remotely considered him in the summer.

TIME AT TORINO

Torino fans took to his elevated status during his one-year loan spell last season but, the fact of the matter is, Hart was the main reason they finished well adrift of the European places.

No goalkeeper made more errors in Serie A last season and Torino owner Urbano Cairo said of Hart: “I love Joe. He’s a great guy.

Hart deserves credit for going to Torino but he was pretty useless

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Hart deserves credit for going to Torino but he was pretty useless

“But we’ve conceded that type of goal three times already.”

That sentiment was reiterated by Torino-based journalist, who said: “Whoever takes [Hart’s] place between the posts [next season], will be welcome, even if it were his non-imperforable predecessor, [Daniele] Padelli.”

Ouch.

WHAT’S GOING WRONG?

So why is Hart, who was lucky to avoid giving away a blatant penalty against Slovenia in the opening ten minutes, still England’s number one?

Hart brought down Josip Ilicic but no penalty was given

Reuters
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Hart brought down Josip Ilicic but no penalty was given

His move to West Ham has seen him concede 13 goals in his first seven Premier League games.

Hart’s technical ability has also come under intense scrutiny, particularly basic goalkeeping facets like the way he dives to make stops.

COMPETITION

England ultimately have three, even four stoppers who should be ahead of Hart in the queue to start in Russia.

Jack Butland has recovered from his horrific ankle injury suffered before Euro 2016 to find some real form for Stoke this season.

Butland has to be England's first choice in Russia

Reuters
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Butland has to be England’s first choice in Russia

Everton may be struggling under Ronald Koeman, but Jordan Pickford has barely been at fault and his displays for Sunderland last season was the Black Cats’ sole bright spot in a dismal campaign.

Fraser Forster, in a similar vain to Butland, has had to overcome injury problems but now looks in good shape in an always consistent Southampton rearguard.

Forster saved a penalty from Saido Berahino last weekend

Rex Features
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Forster saved a penalty from Saido Berahino last weekend

And even Ben Foster, who has had his chances with England already during his career, is experiencing an Indian summer at West Brom.

All four are better options than Hart right now.

WRONG PERSONALITY?

There was an interesting debate in the office yesterday surrounding Hart’s general demeanour.

When you think of Hart, many will instantly recall the footage of him pumped up, harassing and screaming at ball boys at the last World Cup.

Stop shouting so much Joe

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Stop shouting so much Joe

He’s an incredibly vocal character, but is that necessarily a good trait for a goalkeeper?

The best in the world – the likes of Jan Oblak, David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois – are all exceptionally good without really ever expressing themselves outside of their own penalty area.

So is Hart masking his negligence by being overly extroverted? Maybe.

De Gea celebrates after Manchester United's victory against the Toffees at Old Trafford

Getty Images - Getty
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De Gea calmly gets on with his game

One thing is for sure, the Hammers goalkeeper continues to brainwash Southgate and the powers that by dining on former glories and a now dwindling reputation.

Hart’s next Three Lions cap will take him level with a true great in David Seaman on 75 England appearances.

The harsh reality is, I hope he’s never allowed to reach that landmark…