Given confident Hart can cope
Shay Given has backed Joe Hart to be England's number one - but aims to keep him out of the Man City side.
By Ben Collins
Last Updated: 01/06/10 7:23pm
Shay Given has backed Joe Hart to be England's World Cup number one - but aims to keep him out of the Manchester City side.
Hart has earned a place in Fabio Capello's World Cup squad after excelling on loan at Birmingham and is now locked in a three-way battle with Portsmouth's David James and West Ham's Robert Green to start against USA on 12th June.
At 23, Hart is the least experienced of the three keepers but staked his claim with a fine display in Sunday's 2-1 friendly win against Japan after coming on as a half-time substitute.
And Given believes his City understudy would handle the pressure if given the nod in South Africa.
"It would be great for Joe to get a couple of games," Given told the Manchester Evening News.
"He's had a fantastic season. Rob Green and David James are two fantastic keepers as well.
"It's going to be a difficult decision for the England manager, but Joe has given him that difficult decision to make. He's done really well."
Given missed the last three games of the season after suffering a dislocated shoulder in City's 0-0 draw at Arsenal in April.
Hart could therefore begin the season in goal for City after returning from Birmingham but Given is determined to get back to full fitness in time having jumped ahead of Hart as City's first-choice keeper when he signed from Newcastle for £8million in February 2009.
"I was told I would be out for three to four months when I picked up the injury," said the Republic of Ireland international.
"Three months would take me to the end of July, while four would make it the end of August, so I'm pushing for the earlier date!
"I'm hoping to be back for the start of the season. That's the aim, because I don't want to miss any games.
"I was gutted to miss the final week of last season. It couldn't be helped, but I don't want to miss any more matches.
"I want to be back for the first game. That's my target. I hope I can get to play in pre-season as well."
Given added: "The physios are really happy with the way I've healed."