Joe Hart’s poor form with Manchester City has officially bitten him at the international level too.
With Roy Hodgson having told reporters earlier in the week that Hart will be sat for at least one of England’s two upcoming friendlies in this international break, the England manager confirmed today that he will remain on the bench against Chile on Friday.
That means it will be either Celtic’s Fraser Forster or Norwich’s John Ruddy to don the gloves and try to put pressure on Hart’s place.
Both men are in their mid 20’s and have just one cap between the two – Ruddy’s second-half appearance against Italy in 2012 remains the only appearance for either ‘keeper.
The development is an interesting one, but still doesn’t give us a good enough peek into Hodgson’s mind in regards to the embattled City stopper. Hodgson has done a complete U-turn in his opinion of Hart’s job security.
Back in October, when Hart was beginning to get national attention for his struggles, Hodgson backed Hart to remain his number 1 between the sticks no matter the situation at City.
‘I’m not blind to the situation, I do realise it is not a good moment for Joe” said Hodgson on October 3 before England’s final round of World Cup qualifiers. “He is a proud man and a very good goalkeeper and I am sure when he is criticisied he is unhappy. I still believe in Joe, I believe he is the right man for the job and I don’t believe he will let England down.”
However, now Hodgson isn’t so sure. He uses terms like “for now” and “we’ll cross that bridge when we get there” when discussing his struggling starter.
“Joe has only lost his place one game ago” said the England boss back on Monday. “That might be a more relevant consideration for me in March or February even – if it’s gone three months, he’s been replaced and never gets a game. I’ll have to cross that bridge if we come to it. For now, I’m still picking him.”
Tomorrow’s match with nothing on the line is a good chance for Hodgson to see exactly what he has waiting in the wings.
Fraser Forster has had the most noise surrounding his selection, given his excellent form with Celtic, especially on the biggest stage. In the Champions League qualification stage, Forster had a blinder, picking up five clean sheets in Celtic’s six matches.
After Celtic drew Barcelona, AC Milan, and Ajax in the group stage – about as difficult as it could have possibly been – Forster has not kept a clean sheet but has only conceded five goals in the four matches.
On the domestic stage, the 25-year-old has three clean sheets in twelve matches as Celtic remain unbeaten thus far into the Scottish Premiership season.
For Ruddy, it’s been a rougher go so far this season as Norwich have underperformed and their manager Chris Houghton has come under fire. However, the 27-year-old remains a good, experienced choice despite his lack of caps, as opposed to some of the younger options in Jack Butland and David Stockdale.
What Hodgson chooses to do with Hart remains to be seen, but it’s clear he’s starting to lose faith just like Pellegrini, and tomorrow’s friendly against Chile is a perfect opportunity for someone to plant even more doubt in their manager’s mind.