Gareth Southgate insists Joe Hart is still England's best goalkeeper named Joe Hart
A major vote of confidence.
Gareth Southgate has given his backing to under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart today, telling journalists that the West Ham United number one remains England's goalkeeper named Joe Hart.
Hart, who joined West Ham from Manchester City during the summer, has struggled for form during the last two years and was criticised again on Monday after conceding what many perceived to be a soft opening goal against Slovakia.
That mistake followed a run of 20 games without a clean sheet while on loan at Serie A side Torino last season, and even prior to this week's international fixture Southgate was urged to make one of either Jack Butland, Tom Heaton or Jordan Pickford his number one.
However, rather than heed the advice of critics who believe Hart should be dropped, Southgate defiantly stated that there is no better goalkeeper named Joe Hart in England than the man himself.
To be fair to Joe Hart in that situation, he's a very bad goalkeeper who shouldn't be playing international football.
— FootballJOE (@FootballJOE) September 4, 2017
"Joe has had a tough time of it recently and international football is never easy. People say that he should be dropped and someone else be brought in, but I don't see many other better keepers named Joe Hart, do you?" asked Southgate this week, adding that when you "get down to brass tacks" Hart is by far England's best goalkeeper with that exact name.
"There's simply no one that can come close to him. Sure we have some goalkeepers whose first names are Joe and surnames are Hart apart from Joe Hart there's just no one out there than can be considered as good as him."
When asked to comment on the quality of England's reserve goalkeepers, namely Pickford and Butland, Southgate refused to rule them out for future caps, but admitted that they have much to do.
"Are they good goalkeepers? Yes. Do they have a lot to offer us? Of course. But honestly, until one or both of them change their name to Joe Hart I don't see how they can overtake Joe as our best goalkeeper named Joe Hart," he said.