ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson has vowed to keep faith with goalkeeper Joe Hart for the conclusion of the World Cup qualifying campaign despite growing concerns about his substandard form.
Hart, 26, was twice beaten at his near post in Manchester City’s 3-1 defeat to Bayern Munich on Wednesday and has made other costly errors for club and country in the last 12 months.
But Hodgson intends to hand Hart his 36th England cap against Montenegro at Wembley next Friday and resist the temptation to select Celtic’s Fraser Forster, who made a string of impressive saves in the 1-0 defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday.
“I have great faith in Joe and have no doubt he will come through these two games and we’ll get the results we need and he’ll put one bad game behind him,” said the 66-year-old.
“We have let in three goals in eight games so it will take a lot more than one bad game from any player to start suggesting he needs to be replaced, especially with our situation.
“It would be a mistake to suggest Fraser Forster at this moment in time should be given the responsibility in these two vitally important games.”
Hodgson has included striker Wayne Rooney in his 23-man squad for the home fixtures against Montenegro and Poland, with England likely to have to win both in order to top Group H and ensure automatic qualification to next summer’s finals in Brazil.
Rooney missed Manchester United’s midweek draw with Shakhtar Donetsk due to a shin injury, but Hodgson has hinted at pairing the 27-year-old alongside in-form Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge in attack.
“These two players are in great form,” he said. “I’m very hopeful and confident that this group of players will take us to the World Cup.”
THREE LIONS SQUAD
■ Forster, Hart, Ruddy
■ Baines, Cahill, Cole, Jagielka, Jones, Smalling, Walker
■ Barkley, Carrick, Cleverley, Gerrard, Lampard, Milner, Townsend, Wilshere
■ Defoe, Lambert, Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck