England boss Gareth Southgate has a problem - a big problem - over which goalkeeper will be his number one at the World Cup in Russia this summer.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Stoke City’s Jack Butland are the two leading candidates - but both are young in goalkeeper terms and inexperienced at international level. The pair have won nine caps between them.
Then there’s the vastly-experienced Joe Hart, who has 75 international caps to his name and has played at three major tournaments.
The West Ham shot-stopper’s career has taken a spectacular nose-dive over the past two years, however, and Southgate may decide to omit him from his 23-man squad in favour of Nick Pope or possibly Tom Heaton.
Southgate was at the London Stadium on Monday night to run the rule over Hart, who was named in West Ham’s starting line-up against Stoke, and Butland.
However, Hart failed to make a positive impression, making one calamitous error which resulted in Peter Crouch giving the Potters the lead.
Andy Carroll equalised for the Hammers at the death but for Hart, the damage had been done.
Moyes defends Hart after latest mistake
David Moyes backed the Manchester City loanee after the match, telling reporters: “He had two very similar shots in the first half and he took them quite comfortably in his midriff. So it was a surprise that it spilt out.
"But, look, if you’re a goalkeeper it’s going to happen.
“Last week, after he made fantastic saves at Chelsea, I said to him ‘well done’. I didn’t go over the top because I expect him to do that.
“Tonight I’ll tell him ‘You should have done better on that one’.”
Sutton speaks the truth about Hart
However, former Premier League striker Chris Sutton, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, is in no doubt that Southgate should leave Hart at home this summer.
"There are three better goalkeepers than him," the outspoken Sutton said. "You cannot take someone because they are a nice bloke and good in the dressing room.
”If England get two injuries to goalkeepers you need your third keeper to be strong. That is how it should be judged.
"Gareth Southgate isn't wondering if he is a joker, is he good in the dressing room? He is wondering if he is going to make a save and keep us in the tournament.
"After that, how can Southgate go away and feel he can trust Joe Hart in an England jersey again?"
The honest answer is, he can’t. Southgate would have come away from the London Stadium on Monday evening thinking, ‘what if he does that for England at the World Cup?’
Sutton, who isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers with his punditry, has said what most England fans are surely now thinking.
"You feel for Joe Hart after what was a good display at Chelsea - he kept West Ham in the game," the former Celtic centre-forward added. "But tonight was bread and butter. Football is harsh.
"He was indecisive when that shot came in from Xherdan Shaqiri. He should have gathered it. It would have been routine for the Hart of yesteryear. But he spilled it and it was a woeful, woeful bit of goalkeeping."
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