Joe Hart a ma­jor con­tender for World Cup, says McLeish

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FOOTBALL -

ALEX MCLEISH be­lieves that Bir ming­ham’s on-loan goal­keeper, Joe Hart (left), must be “a ma­jor con­tender” to be Eng­land’s No 1 at this year’s World Cup.

The Bir ming­ham man­ager claims that Hart is on the way to be­com­ing “a great goal­keeper” if he main­tains his cur­rent form.

Hart made the sea­son-long switch from Manch­ester City to St An­drew’s to play reg­u­lar first­team foot­ball and press his in­ter­na­tional claims. He has made a ma­jor con­tri­bu­tion to Birm­ing­ham’s rise up to eighth in the Premier League.

The 22-year-old also de­fied Not­ting­ham For­est with sev­eral fine saves in Birm­ing­ham’s 1-0 victory in their FA Cup thir­dround re­play last week, which clinched a visit to Ever­ton in the next round.

“The Ital­ian coaches

[with Eng­land] will be looking for all the in­gre­di­ents from a goal­keeper – kick­ing, han­dling, shot-stop­ping, dis­tri­bu­tion,” McLeish said.

“With Joe, all the in­gre­di­ents are there. Is he good enough for the Eng­land num­ber one spot? I think he’s up there. He’s got to be a ma­jor con­tender.

“Joe was in top form again against For­est and made some great saves and kept us in the game. He has also played his part in the league and saved us some valu­able points. They say great goal­keep­ers can save you 10 points dur­ing the course of a sea­son and Joe is well on his way to that.”

Birm­ing­ham ex­tended their un­beaten run to 14 games in all com­pe­ti­tions with Tues­day’s victory at St An­drew’s, in­flict­ing For­est’s first de­feat in 19 matches in the process. – The Tele­graph

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