England goalkeeper Joe Hart has been endorsed by Manchester City teammates Gareth Barry and James Milner for the England captaincy.
The City keeper, having secured himself the England No.1 jersey following the 2010 World Cup, is thought to be among the leading candidates to replace John Terry as the Three Lions skipper for Euro 2012, after the Chelsea defender was stripped of the role while awaiting trial for allegedly racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker have also been touted as possible replacements, and the debate has split opinion amongst English supporters.
England have not been led in a major tournament by a goalkeeper since Peter Shilton, then 40, led England to the semi-finals of Italia '90. And many fans and managers alike have expressed misgivings about the ability of a keeper to carry out the captain's duties from the confines of the penalty area.
Hart's supporters will, however, point to Italian Dino Zoff and more recently Spaniard Iker Casillas as prime examples of goalkeepers leading their nations to major championship success.
And England and City duo Barry and Milner have provided strong backing to the 24-year-old's candidacy.
Barry told the Manchester Evening News: "I’d give it to Joe, my friend.
"Harty has been fantastic all season. It wasn’t just against Villa that he’s made a world-class save, he’s done it in a few games. That is why he is being talked about as one of the best in the world.”
Milner too believes Hart posses the ideal attributes to lead his country. And, with Gerrard nearing the end of his career, the England Midfielder is quick to point out that Hart would be a stable long term option.
He told the Manchester Evening News: “It’s nothing to do with me in terms of the decision.But he is a great character, he talks, he is not afraid to say what he thinks.
"I’m sure he is going to be England’s number one for a long time, so he is as good a candidate to be captain as anyone.
"He has been absolutely unbelievable for us this season. He’s a world-class goalkeeper, definitely one of the best I’ve played with, and he is going to get better and better as well."
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