Hodgson admits Joe Hart concerns, but keeps faith
The lessons of Scott Carson, drafted in by Steve McClaren, have not been lost on England's latest manager
HE'S now known in some quarters as the 'Cock-up Keeper' but Joe Hart has received a vote of confidence from Roy Hodgson ahead of next week's crucial World Cup qualifiers.
Hart had a howler for Manchester City in their 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in Wednesday's Champions League clash, even coming in for criticism from Gary Neville in his role as a Sky Sports analyser. Neville is also involved in the England set-up as Hodgson's assistant but the manager doesn't envisage a problem when the pair meet next week to prepare for Friday's clash with Montenegro.
"People like Joe understand that whenever they play, their performance is analysed," said Hodgson. "Gary only ever calls things as he sees them. I heard what he said and I don't think it was that critical. It was more a matter of fact statement. He's not afraid of (giving out) criticism."
Neville's criticism was slight, the former Manchester United man telling viewers that Hart was responsible for two of the Bayern goals, adding: "He's got to do better... he'll be disappointed."
Hodgson used the same word himself when he was asked about Hart's performance against the German side, saying: "Joe is a self-confident individual. He's not outrageous in any way. At the end of the Bayern game he was disappointed and saddened by a performance [that]... could have been so much better. But as a goalkeeper if you can't overcome those periods, you can't be a top goalkeeper."
Asked if Hart's form was a worry for him, Hodgson replied: "Of course I have concerns. Anxiety can transmit itself to the other players too, so that will be a concern as well. But I believe he won't transmit anxiety and will have the confidence, because he's the England No 1 goalkeeper."
There's another reason why Hodgson has no intention of giving Hart the heave-ho on the eve of two matches England must win if they're to qualify automatically for next year's World Cup. Who else is there out there?
England have been short on quality shotstoppers for a decade as Steve McClaren discovered to his cost six years ago when the then England manager decided to select rookie gloveman Scott Carson for the tie against Croatia, a match the Three Lions had to win if they were to qualify for the 2008 European Championships. Carson gifted the Croatians their opening goal as England slumped to a 3-2 defeat and the next day McClaren was fired.
"I know the story of Scott Carson," said Hodgson on Thursday. "I think it's a big ask in these games to put someone in. I'm not greatly in favour, especially with goalkeepers, of dropping them the moment they have a bad game and put in someone who's had a good game. We have to look beyond that." ·