Mark Schwarzer says England number one spot is Joe Hart's to lose despite lack of game time
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 17/03/18 4:24pm
Mark Schwarzer says England's World Cup number-one shirt is Joe Hart's to lose if he ends the season in good form for West Ham.
Hart was restored to the Hammers' line-up for their 3-0 defeat to Burnley last weekend, but endured a torrid time between the sticks and was at fault for the visitors' third goal.
It was the 30-year-old's first league appearance since late November - but despite that, Schwarzer thinks his international experience will play a big part in Gareth Southgate's thinking ahead of the World Cup.
He said: "If Joe Hart plays between now and the end of the season and plays well then there's no decision to be made. Based on his previous performances and the potential good performances between now and the end of the season, he would warrant selection as England's first choice goalkeeper.
"He's done nothing wrong in my opinion to lose that position. It's a big if though. There are still quite a few games to go this season but he has to play well. Against Burnley wasn't the best of starts but he's got eight games left and he has to perform."
Four goalkeepers were called up to Southgate's squad for the double header with Holland and Italy next week, with Everton's Jordan Pickford, Stoke's Jack Butland and Burnley's Nick Pope also included.
Schwarzer said Pope has an "outside chance" of making the World Cup squad, given his fine form for the Clarets - coupled with his inexperience at international level - but feels Pickford and Butland have a realistic chance of being England's number one in Russia.
He added: "At the moment those two guys have to be in the running because Joe's only played one game since November.
"The games at the end of the month are going to be crucial for Gareth. Reading between the lines and looking at the situation, I think it's going to be more of a case of him giving Butland and Pickford the chance to stake a claim in those games because they are playing week in, week out.
"He could play one of them in each of the games against Holland and Italy. Joe will be there but Gareth knows what Joe can produce. As to whether he starts at the World Cup or not it will come down to how many games he gets between now and the end of the season."