Despite Joe Hart’s latest clanger, this time in front of the England manager (not that he doesn’t see the others on TV), the on loan West Ham goalkeeper is still odds on to make it into Gareth Southgate’s world cup squad for Russia.
Hart spilled Shaqiri’s shot late on allowing Peter Crouch to fire Stoke in front, in his sides 1-1 draw on Monday night. This prompted ridicule from the Stoke fans, who cruelly chanted England’s No.4 at him, all of which can’t have helped with Southgate watching on.
The layers don’t seem to think that is it for Hart though, with Top Bookmakers placing him third in the betting at between 4/6 and 8/11. His apparent main rival for the third goalkeeping spot, Burnley’s Nick Pope, is Even money to make the cut.
If this is a contest on form, there only really looks to be one winner, and that would clearly be Pope. He has had an outstanding season for Burnley, and in the process crushed previous Clatet’s number 1, Tom Heaton’s World Cup hopes.
The case for Hart making the squad and remaining ahead of Pope in the betting seems to be based on tournament experience, and squad loyalty. Hart has played 75 times for England, and played a massive part in qualifying for Russia. Although fans and pundits will point to the free kicks against Scotland as a negative.
Hart was also in the World Cup squad back in 2010, although he didn’t play. He was then England’s number 1 at the 2012 European Championships, the 2014 World Cup, and Euro 2016. It was at the Euro’s in 2016 when things started to go wrong.
Hart was at fault for Gareth Bale’s free kick, and didn’t do himself any favours in the defeat to Iceland, where he feebly let in the goals that ultimately knocked England out, and it’s pretty much all been down hill from there.
Despite all this, Southgate may still regard him as part of his squad. The England manager has kept his cards fairly close to his chest on this one, there has been no tell tale signals such as statements about form taking precedent over loyalty, etc.
Hart had a man of the match performance against Chelsea recently, and that seemed to have shown he was on his way back. A strong end to the season might have made it an easier decision for Southgate, but Monday’s mistake seems to have confirmed the good performance was the break from the norm, and not the vice versa.
Of England’s other two stoppers, it seems more a contest about who is number 1 and will start England’s first Group G match. Both Stoke’s Jack Butland, and Everton’s Jordan Pickford are 1/50 to make the squad and seem certain to be going.
Even so, they are both without fault this season, with both having made their fair share of errors, and both still looking like they have a clanger in them.