DAVIE PYE: Hart's place should not be guaranteed for every game
11:00pm Friday 4th October 2013 in Sport
WHEN Roy Hodgson named his England squad for the final two World Cup qualifiers yesterday, there was never any doubt that his first-choice goalkeeper Joe Hart would be included.
But the young stopper’s displays in recent months, and errors in Manchester City’s defeat to European champions Bayern Munich at the Etihad on Wednesday, have ignited debate over his position as number one for the Three Lions.
It is highly doubtful Hodgson will have a kneejerk reaction and drop Hart but I am intrigued why some keepers seem immune to their place being in jeopardy.
Hart is undoubtedly a talent and rightly seen as the brightest England keeper. But that should not mean his place is guaranteed every game.
A potential contender, Fraser Forster, proved with his display for Celtic against Barcelona there are other options available to Hodgson.
But it is a unique position that seems governed by different rules. The whole ethos of an international team should surely be picking players who are in form – that does not always apply for England.
Looking back to when I was growing up, Peter Shilton was always the number one and his record speaks for itself. But I always felt sorry for his understudy in the late eighties and early nineties, Chris Woods.
A talented keeper in his own right, Woods was probably unlucky to be around at the same time as Shilton and maybe would have had more than his 43 caps had that not been the case.
By the time he had moved up to first-choice in 1991, another stopper was challenging in the shape of David Seaman who would take over just two years later.
The whole process began again as David James became the new Woods as back up to Seaman for several years.
Now, after Steve McLaren flirted with several stoppers in Rob Green and Scott Carson, after Paul Robinson decided to quit the international scene, we are back to the same situation again as Hart looks untouchable as number one.
It is an issue that, under the previous regime of Fabio Capello, saw understudy Ben Foster opt out of England selection, possibly accepting he would rarely get off the bench.
But why should that be the case?
It is not just at international level either. I’m sure Hart’s understudy at City, Costel Pantilimon, feels frustrated as will other reserve stoppers around the country.
Maybe Andy Lonergan is at Wanderers as he watches Adam Bogdan, albeit not entirely his fault, picking the ball out of his net with regularity this season.
The goalkeeper’s union is considered different but there must be competition for places.
And maybe taking Hart out of the firing line, like Sir Alex Ferguson did with David de Gea in the last two seasons, could be the kick up the rear he needs.