RAY OF HOPE
Southgate explains World Cup choices as he opens door for Joe Hart return
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.