Hart’s World Cup dream slips out of reach
JOE Hart’s World Cup dreams appear to have gone up in smoke as Gareth Southgate prepares to name the England squad bound for Russia.
Months of speculation, scrutiny and intrigue come to a head this afternoon, when the 23 men charged with taking on the world’s best next month are revealed.
Their delight will contrast markedly with the disappointment of those missing out, with Hart — comfortably England’s most experienced player — said to have missed the cut.
Despite the 75-cap goalkeep- er’s struggles for form and gametime, Southgate spoke glowingly about his professionalism and leadership when third-fiddle to Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland in March’s international meet-up.
The England manager also underlined the importance of the West Ham loanee’s role in getting his country to the World Cup and just last August called the criticised shot-stopper the country’s “best goalkeeper”.
But Burnley’s Nick Pope has usurped him in the pecking order after Southgate called Hart (above) on Monday to tell him he would not be in the squad heading to Russia.
It is a bold call, but Southgate said in March he was being “really straight with him throughout” the selection process.
“Joe’s professionalism has been brilliant with us,” the England boss said after the March friendlies. “He’s always performed well for us.” Southgate’s choices will be pawed over at a press conference at Wembley tomorrow, when the process will be in focus as well as his plans for the captaincy and goalkeeper in Russia. The majority of players will meet up on Monday. England have friendlies against Nigeria at Wembley on June 2 and Costa Rica in Leeds on June 7, with the Group G opener against Tunisia on June 18. SAM Allardyce’s five-and-a-halfmonth reign at Everton is expected to be brought to an end today.
It has been reported that the 63-year-old would be informed at a meeting with Toffees majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri that his services are no longer required.
The writing has been on the wall for several months despite Allardyce’s public protestations to the contrary. The former England manager has failed to win over a large section of the Everton fanbase despite lifting the club from 13th in the Premier League when he took over at the end of November to finish eighth.
Allardyce (below) seemed to accept his fate after the Toffees’ final match of the season, a 3-1 defeat by West Ham on Sunday.
He said: “Contract for next year. Confident? I can’t quite say confident after all the rumours I’m reading in the paper. Generally there’s no smoke without fire. We’ll wait and see when we meet up.”
A dismal start to the season under Ronald Koeman had Everton fearing being sucked into a relegation battle but stability and a push towards the Europa League spots did not placate the Everton support after Allardyce was given an 18-month contract.
Former Watford manager Marco Silva is the favourite to take over and could complete the move to Goodison Park six months after the club failed to prise him away from Vicarage Road.
The Hornets refused to let Silva go only to sack him in January, citing the disruption caused by Everton’s “unwarranted approach” for a major dip in their form.
Shakhtar Donetsk coach Paulo Fonseca has also been linked with Everton as well as West Ham, while former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal, Andre Villas-Boas, Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe are other names reportedly in the frame.