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Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Gareth Southgate may decide against a change of Hart

Dan Childs looks into who will get a seat on the plane

Joe Hart is 31
1 of 1

Gareth Southgate demonstrated his ruthless side in March 2017 by leaving Wayne Rooney out of the England squad but he may take a more cautious approach by including Joe Hart among his goalkeepers for this summer's World Cup.

Southgate has a shade over two months to finalise his squad and one of his most difficult decisions is to identify a first-choice goalkeeper.

Hart's stock has fallen dramatically since Pep Guardiola's arrival at Manchester City in the summer of 2016.

After underwhelming loan spells at Torino and West Ham, the 30-year-old has gone from being one of the first names on the England team sheet to being uncertain of securing a place in the final 23-man squad.

However, Hart is part of the squad to face Holland and Italy over the next nine days and looks a value even-money shot with bet365 to board the plane to Russia.

The case against taking Hart is a fairly strong one, bearing in mind he has started just one Premier League game for West Ham in 2018.

However, Hart has generally performed well in England colours and played the full 90 minutes of the 0-0 draw with Brazil last November.

His obvious advantage over principal rivals Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford is experience.

Hart has won 75 international caps and was England's first-choice custodian at Euro 2012, World Cup 2014 and Euro 2016.

Based on his performances this season, maybe he doesn't deserve to be the first-choice pick.

He is the 7-2 third favourite with Coral to start England's World Cup opener against Tunisia, while Butland and Pickford are 5-4 and 6-4.

However, it would be a huge call to leave Hart behind and take three inexperienced keepers.

Of the fellow keepers in the latest squad, Butland has six caps, Pickford three and Nick Pope is yet to feature on the international stage.

And there are is little competition coming from outside the squad with Burnley's Tom Heaton injured and Southampton's Fraser Forster out of favour at club level.

Another area of concern for Southgate is getting the right balance in midfield.

Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson are seemingly near the front of the queue even though neither looks fully convincing.

Jake Livermore deputised for the injured Henderson in the November friendlies against Germany and Brazil but has had a tough season with West Brom and is 11-4 with bet365 to make the final cut.

Jack Wilshere comes into Southgate's thinking after forcing his way back into the Arsenal side and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been getting opportunities in a central role at Liverpool but it remains an area of the side where places are up for grabs.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek may still have time to force his way into contention after returning from a three-month layoff as a substitute in Crystal Palace's 2-0 win at Huddersfield on Saturday.

The 22-year-old made his senior international debut in the November internationals and was the England's outstanding player in the 0-0 draw with Germany.

Previously, he played under Southgate for the England under-21s, scoring seven goals in 17 appearances.

And time spent in the under-21s could hand him a big advantage over rival players who haven't had the chance to play under the England manager.

Southgate is keen to strengthen the link between the under-21 and senior setups and handed senior call ups to Tammy Abraham, Harry Winks and Dominic Solanke in November.

None of that trio have kicked on but Loftus-Cheek's performance against Germany is still fairly fresh in the memory and he has another seven Premier League games to catch the eye of the England manager.

Ashley Young has made the last two England squads and is interesting at 11-8 with bet365 to make the final selection.

However, competition for places at left-back is fierce with Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand at the front of the queue and Fabian Delph in contention.

Rose and Bertrand made a start each in the November friendlies and Young had to wait until the 80th minute of the Brazil game to replace Bertrand.

The easiest choices could be in attack.

Harry Kane misses the the Holland and Italy matches through injury but is long odds-on to get the call, as are Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy, Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling.

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Of the fellow keepers in the latest squad, Butland has six caps, Pickford three and Nick Pope is yet to feature on the international stage
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