England boss Roy Hodgson insists Joe Hart remains his number one goalkeeper
England boss Roy Hodgson insists Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart remains number one for the national team.
Last Updated: 17/03/13 9:17am
Hart has been in patchy form this season and his place in under threat from Celtic shot-stopper Fraser Forster and the recalled West Brom keeper Ben Foster.
But Hart is certain to keep his place for Friday's World Cup qualifier in San Marino as England look to take a step closer to next year's showpiece in Rio.
Hodgson said: "I don't think Joe would ever take his place for granted. I think that would be a harsh criticism of him.
"I've been more than happy with Joe Hart as England's number one 'keeper. He is a very good 'keeper.
"But, if you can have two good 'keepers in your squad, you don't turn down the opportunity.
"It is more a question now of having available a 'keeper who is a) experienced and b) in good form and playing well for his team, a team that is doing very well in the Premier League.
"It is a good situation because you never know with a 'keeper what is going to happen, even during the course of a game."
Hodgson added: "At the moment, Joe Hart is the number one as far as I'm concerned.
"I'm not suggesting when they come to training on Monday it is going to be a fight to see who can get the gloves.
"Joe Hart has got hold of the shirt. It will be up to Ben, I suppose, to try and get the shirt from him. But it is nice to have Ben there making that attempt."
Hodgson is reluctant to become involved as to whether City manager Roberto Mancini's recent criticism have had a negative impact on Hart.
He said: "You will have to ask Joe. He has not let me down playing for England. He is a good 'keeper.
"Not many people would contest he is the number one 'keeper in the country and I'm happy to have him.
"You are referring to a situation at club level which is out of my domain. That is between him and his manager.
"How it's affecting him, he doesn't seem to be playing that badly and when I've seen him, he's done well."
Hodgson has praised the impact made by midfielder Steven Gerrard during his first year as official England captain.
He also believes the Liverpool player is coping with a demanding schedule which includes playing every single minute of Liverpool's Premier League matches this season.
Hodgson said: "Steven does a fantastic job as captain, he takes it very seriously. He talks a lot to the other players. I'm delighted to have him with us.
"Liverpool have been very supportive of the fact he plays these matches (with England) despite not missing many games for them.
"That's what you hope for at international level, that you will get the chance to play the best players who are playing on a regular basis for their clubs.
"They will be playing more games because they are the best players.
"But Steven doesn't seem to be overburdened at all at the moment so long may that continue."