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Nov 7, 2013

Hodgson: Hart still England's No. 1

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has back Manchester City stopper Joe Hart to recover from being dropped by manager Manuel Pellegrini

England manager Roy Hodgson has confirmed that Joe Hart remains his first-choice goalkeeper, even though he has lost his starting spot at Manchester City.

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Hart was dropped by City boss Manuel Pellegrini after a string of high-profile errors, raising suggestions that Celtic’s Fraser Forster or Norwich City’s John Ruddy could yet establish themselves in the England side prior to next summer’s World Cup.

However, speaking ahead of the upcoming friendlies against Chile and Germany at Wembley, Hodgson told a news conference: “Joe will definitely start one [of the matches] as he is our No. 1 goalkeeper. He might start against Germany, but I won’t be pinned down on that.”

Hodgson’s stressed that his decision to hand either Forster or Ruddy a start does not suggest Hart could fall down the pecking order.

Hodgson insists that Hart is still his first-choice.
Hodgson insists that Hart is still his first-choice.

He said: “Every manager must manage his club in the way he sees best to manage his club. I do the same. I look at the English goalkeepers who are available to play and then I pick the best one. Up to now that has been Joe Hart, but Manuel Pellegrini and Manchester City are entitled to do whatever he wants with his club.

“It is important for me to look at one of the other two goalkeepers, possibly both, so that is what I intend to do.”

He added: “It is November. He made a mistake or possibly two mistakes. As a result of those mistakes, the [Manchester City] manager has made his decision. I would be a lot more concerned if Joe Hart never got his place back, and if in the spring of next year when I have to select 23 players he was a constant reserve, I will cross that bridge when I come back. I firmly believe Joe is such a good goalkeeper he will get back in the team.

“We are happy we have got three goalkeepers. Fraser Forster has not been held back by the SPL, he has been held back by Joe Hart. Goalkeepers can find themselves behind the No. 1 through no fault of their own. I want to put a word in with John Ruddy as well. It is up to me to decide which is number one.”

Hodgson also explained his thinking behind the move to hand Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez his first England call-up, with the presence of his club colleague Adam Lallana highlighting the Saints’ impressive performance in the Premier League this season.

“We see Rodriguez as someone who could fill the Danny Welbeck role,” he said. “He is a wide forward, likes to attack players with the ball and get into the penalty box. This is an interesting opportunity to get to know a little bit more about him as all the information we have about him at the moment has come from [watching him in] the stands.

“As for Adam Lallana, he was with us once a long time ago. We are looking at him in training and we have been following him very closely. He has played a major part in their rise to the top of the table -- he is a major cog and is playing very well.”

Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere was also included in squad, despite the ongoing injury problems afflicting the 21-year-old midfielder.

"We are in constant discussions with Arsenal, talking to their medical staff over Jack," Hodgson said. "We know he is in a period where is ankle is being constantly assessed. I have left a message with Arsene [Wenger] and we will monitor the situation on a daily basis. If he plays at the weekend, there will be nothing more to discuss.

"This is not to do with his previous ankle problems. This is a kick on his ankle and the inflammation needs to calm down. Arsene is not averse to me playing him in one of these games and it is a question of whether he is fit enough."

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