PA Sport

Hart’s international future bleak after World Cup snub

Hart’s international future bleak after World Cup snub
By PA Sport

16/05/2018 at 13:04Updated 16/05/2018 at 15:23

The goalkeeper has not even made the standby list.

Joe Hart’s England career lies in tatters after he was left out of the World Cup squad.

The goalkeeper has not even made the standby list having paid the ultimate price for his unconvincing form for West Ham this season.

On paper it is a bold decision by Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate, but in reality it illustrates just how far, and how quickly, Hart’s stock has fallen.

He has won 75 caps, been England’s first-choice keeper for the past three major tournaments and played in nine of their 10 unbeaten qualifying matches for Russia.

There had been calls for Hart to be taken to Russia for his experience, even if he were now third choice. But Southgate has instead chosen Burnley’s Nick Pope alongside Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland of Stoke. In a further snub, Burnley’s Tom Heaton, who has not even played since September, is on standby.

Hart’s downfall can be traced back to Euro 2016, when he was widely panned for his positioning as Gareth Bale scored a long-range free-kick for Wales, and allowed Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s shot to slip under his grasp as Iceland dealt England a humiliating defeat.

Joe Hart and his England team-mates are dejected after losing to Iceland

After that tournament Hart found himself out of favour at Manchester City as Pep Guardiola sought a keeper more adept with the ball at his feet.

A loan move to Italian side Torino got off to an inauspicious start – he was listed as ‘John’ on the teamsheet and was at fault for an Atalanta goal in a 2-1 defeat – and did not get much better.

The season-long loan switch to West Ham was meant to cement Hart’s World Cup spot, but it had the opposite effect.

Twice he was dropped in favour of Spanish keeper Adrian, hardly a pillar of reliability himself, after some dreadful errors.

Just last month against Stoke, when Hart spilled a routine shot at the feet of Peter Crouch and bizarrely attempted to kick it clear, he appeared a keeper utterly bereft of confidence.

Yet only a week earlier Hart had looked every inch the national number one as he pulled off three world-class saves to earn West Ham a point at Chelsea.

This was the same keeper who helped England boast one of the best defensive records in qualifying for Russia. The keeper who kept out Ronaldinho’s penalty, and the rebound, in a 2-1 win over Brazil. The keeper who made more saves than any other during the group stage of Euro 2012.

Hart is level with David Seaman as England’s second most-capped goalkeeper. He has won the Premier League twice, and the Golden Glove award four times.

The old adage says class is permanent, and while two years of poor form can hardly be described as a ‘blip’, Hart, at 31, should be approaching his prime as a goalkeeper.

He has the tools to resurrect his career with a new club, this time on a permanent move. But for now his international prospects are non-existent.