Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to drop Joe Hart from the Manchester City starting line-up against Norwich City on Saturday will give England boss Roy Hodgson a huge selection dilemma later this month.
The national team head into international friendlies against Chile and Germany with a rare situation where the country’s first-choice goalkeeper is no longer playing for his club.
Hart was dropped by Pellegrini following a series of recent mistakes, culminating in a clanger which gifted Chelsea victory over their Premier League rivals last weekend.
The Chilean coach has confirmed that his 26-year-old English goalkeeper will continue to warm the bench when City face CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday, with Costel Pantilimon keeping his place between the sticks.
The longer Hart remains on the sidelines, the more pressure there will be on Roy Hodgson to introduce Fraser Forster as his replacement for England.
The Celtic goalkeeper has joined up with the national squad on four separate occasions since October 2012 but is yet to make his England debut.
He and John Ruddy are the current understudies to Hart, but with the World Cup in Brazil rapidly approaching, Hodgson will want to enter the tournament with an in-form first choice goalkeeper who has significant international experience.
If Hart does not earn a recall to Pellegrini’s side for the foreseeable future, then it is unthinkable that England could head into the World Cup with an uncapped number one.
In other words, Hodgson must start Forster or Ruddy against either Chile or Germany.
With Ruddy having conceded seven goals on Saturday – ironically at the hands of a Manchester City side which did not feature Joe Hart – his confidence will no doubt be suffering.
Hodgson has very few options available in the shot-stopping department making Forster – who has kept three clean sheets in the Scottish Premier League this season – the most likely first choice.
Whether the former Fulham manager will drop Hart completely or include him in the starting line-up for one of the two friendlies remains to be seen, but he will surely have to hand Forster his first cap before it is too late.
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