RAY OF HOPE

South­gate ex­plains World Cup choices as he opens door for Joe Hart re­turn

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ENG­LAND boss Gareth South­gate in­sists Joe Hart’s omission from the 23-man World Cup squad does not nec­es­sar­ily sig­nal the end of his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer. The ex­pe­ri­enced goal­keeper has 75 caps for the Three Lions but has strug­gled for form at club level since leav­ing Manch­ester City for Torino and then West Ham.

South­gate opted to go for form over ex­pe­ri­ence as he se­lected Ever­ton’s Jor­dan Pick­ford, Stoke’s Jack But­land and Burn­ley’s Nick Pope as his goal­keep­ing trio while Tom Heaton is on the standby list.

“Of course it was a dif­fi­cult call,” South­gate ac­cepted dur­ing his me­dia con­fer­ence on Thurs­day. “He took it very pro­fes­sion­ally, of course dis­ap­pointed, as was Ryan Ber­trand but both very pro­fes­sional. I know as a player that the dis­ap­point­ment is good to talk through in a few months time.

“He played in most of our qual­i­fy­ing matches, he's been a big part of the Eng­land team the last few years and he’s a val­ued mem­ber of the squad.

“Jack had a good spell in the lead up until Christ­mas and just af­ter,” South­gate added.

“Not as ef­fec­tive to­wards the end of the sea­son and we think the other guys have played very well and de­serve their place in the squad.

“We’ve been re­ally pleased with how the team played in Novem­ber and March in par­tic­u­lar. “We think we are head­ing in a good path­way, pleased with the in­di­vid­u­als and the only mid­fielder we’ve added into that is Fabian Delph who has had a stun­ning sea­son with Manch­ester City.”

Young stars Trent Alexan­der Arnold — who South­gate re­vealed was in­formed of his place by Liver­pool boss Jur­gen Klopp — and Ruben Lof­tus-Cheek mer­ited in­clu­sion due to their con­sis­tent club form while in defence, South­gate has se­lected Chelsea’s Gary Cahill to add some ex­pe­ri­ence to the ranks.

On the un­capped Alexan­derArnold, South­gate said: “He’s shown, in games of real pres­sure, the per­son­al­ity and the abil­ity to cope with that. He’s had an ex­tended run in a team where the ex­pec­ta­tion is high. He looks like he'll be play­ing in a Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal and is a player I know.

“I went to Amer­ica with him two or three years ago with our un­der­17s. He trained with us last month, no prob­lem.

“There are some other younger play­ers that aren't quite ready to be with us, but he's ticked all the cri­te­ria we feel we need.”

I pick play­ers on form and if he’s (Hart) play­ing well for his club, why wouldn’t we se­lect him? There’s no rea­son for this to be the end. — GARETH SOUTH­GATE, ENG­LAND’S MAN­AGER

Joe Hart, who has won 75 caps for Eng­land, was not in­cluded as one of three goal­keep­ers.

Gareth South­gate at­tends a press con­fer­ence at Wem­b­ley.

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