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Hodgson backs Hart for rebirth

England manager Roy Hodgson has given Joe Hart a boost ahead of Tuesday's friendly against Germany, throwing his support behind the embattled goalkeeper.

Hodgson insists that Hart is still his first-choice.
Hart will return to the pitch when England host Germany on Tuesday.

Celtic's Fraser Forster replaced Hart in the starting line-up for Friday's 2-1 defeat to Chile, but the Manchester City shot stopper will reclaim his place when Joachim Low's side travel to Wembley.

Johnson: Three things

With Hart dropped to the City bench in recent weeks, doubts have been raised over his ability to remain as England's first choice 'keeper, but Hodgson insists he will continue to give the 27-year-old a chance.

"When you put that England shirt on, whether it be a white shirt or a goalkeeper’s jersey, it will be a tough mental test and a tough test of attitude," said Hodgson. "But I fully believe that Joe understands that and is ready for that. All I can do is give him the shirt and the chance to go out and play and afterwards, he’s going to have to face whatever he faces.

"Whether he plays well and keeps a clean sheet to help us to win the game -- I’m sure people are going to be saying some very good things about him -- but if he doesn’t and lets a couple of easy goals in, he’s going to have to accept that there’ll be criticism because that’s the way of the world we live in."

Hart is expected to face intense pressure for his England place, with Forster and Norwich's John Ruddy aiming to oust him between now and the World Cup.

Hodgson is confident Hart has the mental fortitude to deal with his slump in form.

"Joe Hart's an experienced goalkeeper, he understands the way of the world," he added. "He understands that if he loses his place in the Manchester City team and is criticised for letting a couple of goals in, then what happened will happen.

"I don’t need to take him aside and say: 'Joe, this is what happens in football'. I've got too much respect for him as a professional and as a man to do that. I always try to tell players things they haven’t talked about but I won’t try and teach them to suck eggs.

"I can’t change things for players in that respect. I can’t tell you to be happy about it, I can’t stand here in front of you and give you false positives."

Forster revealed Hart provided him with some valuable advice ahead of Friday's match and believes his past success is evidence he is still a top goalkeeper.

"Joe was fantastic," Forster said. "He talked to me a lot before the game and at half-time. He's obviously very experienced at this level and a top quality keeper. He's a fantastic guy and I can't speak highly enough of him.

"Joe's proven what a top-class keeper he is and made save after save. He'll come back stronger. He's a great lad. He's someone I speak to all the time. He's one of the best people I've come across in football.

"It's just a case of me doing as well as I can at club level and when I'm with the squad just trying to make as good an impression as I can. It's just a case of waiting your turn and trying to impress in training."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.


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