Gareth Southgate has backed Joe Hart to continue as his number one choice as England Goalkeeper despite the star currently being under immense scrutiny and pressure.
With England sitting top of their qualifying group, the England manger has given a clear indication as to who will start in tonight’s away fixture against Malta.
It comes after Hart’s less-than impressive start to the season with his new club West Ham. The England ‘keeper has conceded ten goals in his first three league appearances and also struggled at times while on loan to Italian side Torino last season.
Sky have reported comments from the England manager stating, “Joe will start for us,” adding, “I think he’s our best goalkeeper at the moment.”
The comments came as a surprise to many who have been unimpressed by Hart as of late. The ‘keeper proved to be unreliable at times during England’s 2-2 draw with Scotland in June and was less than impressive during England’s European Championship campaign last summer. Many have felt that it was now time for the number one jersey to be handed over to Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland.
The Mail have claimed that England will field their best possible starting eleven in tonight’s qualifier away to Malta but also noted that Southgate is unlikely to make a decision on a new England captain in the near future.
When questioned on who will replace the retired Wayne Rooney as skipper, the England manager stated, ‘I’m not in a rush to do that. I’ll have to give it some thought, really. It’s not high on my list of priorities. Developing more people who can step up and influence, getting the bond of the team really strong, so we stand together, is far more important.’
Despite Southgate’s decision to keep his cards close to his chest regarding the England captaincy, it appears that is has now become a two-horse race between Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane for the role with the two becoming the bookies favourites to land the position.
The expected starting line-up for tonight’s crucial qualifier is as follows: Hart; Walker, Jones, Cahill, Bertrand; Livermore, Henderson; Sterling, Alli, Rashford; Kane.