The Hard Tackle analyses whether Joe Hart could have already played his last senior match for the England National Team.
Joe Hart has been England’s number one shot-stopper for almost ten years, and has appeared in two World Cups along with two European Championships. For a long spell, his position in the side was unquestionable, but in recent times his form has drastically dropped off.
Now, with the emergence of other viable options between the sticks, it looks as though Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions could line up with a different trustee in goal. Could this lead Hart to follow in James Milner and Wayne Rooney’s footsteps and retire from international duties?
With the premier football tournament fast approaching, speculation is rife as to who the manager will decide is worthy of a place in the team. While his predecessors have often looked to shoehorn star names into the England line-up regardless of form, Southgate has already proven during his short tenure that his team selections will be based upon who is performing well at club level.
Rooney was the first long-standing team member to realise this, and this led to the former captain stepping down from the national side.
Ever since Euro 2016, Hart’s fall from grace has been quick, and far from graceful. After Euro 2016 in France, the 30-year-old was heavily criticised for his errors, which led to Gareth Bale’s goal in the 2-1 victory over Wales, and Kolbien Sigthorsson’s strike in England’s pitiful loss to Iceland in the last 16.
He then returned to Manchester City to find that the new manager, Pep Guardiola, had no interest in having him in his team. This led to a poor loan spell at Torino where he let in 66 goals in 36 games – the fourth highest number of goals conceded in Serie A for the campaign.
Now on loan at West Ham United, Hart’s career has nosedived even further. Slaven Bilic, the manager who signed him, was sacked soon after the transfer window closed, and the Croatian’s replacement David Moyes has expressed a lack of faith in the player.
In fact, Oddschecker notes that due to a lack of game time, the goalkeeper is no longer England’s number one according to bookies. Hart has only made 14 appearances for the Irons this season and has an average rating of 6.32. In that time he has conceded an astonishing 30 goals.
With Hart looking a shadow of his former self and unlikely to get a chance of redemption under Moyes this term, Southgate will be forced to look elsewhere for a reliable rock at the back. One of the standout options is Jordan Pickford, who emerged as a serious talent during his time at Sunderland last season. Now at Everton, the 23-year-old is asserting himself as one of the finest shot-stoppers in England’s top flight.
For a long time, Hart was undeniably one of the best goalkeepers in the game, but due to his recent decline, he has to accept that his position in the England team is all but lost. The noble thing may be to step down, and allow another, such as Pickford, to take up the mantle.