Hodgson: I can't afford to drop Hart
Roy Hodgson admits he cannot afford to drop Joe Hart because it would put a further dent in the goalkeeper's confidence.
Hodgson confirmed that either Fraser Forster or John Ruddy will start in goal for one of England's upcoming friendlies - most likely against Chile - but the Three Lions boss made it crystal-clear that Hart remains very much his number one.
Hart has committed blunders against Cardiff, Aston Villa, Bayern Munich and Chelsea this season while he put in a sub-par performance for England against Scotland.
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has dropped Hart and replaced him with Costel Pantilimon.
That will have no doubt diminished the confidence of a man who has been City's first choice for such a long time, and Hodgson is reluctant to bench the player for longer than one match as he feels it could affect him long term.
"I think it's very important for me to show faith in Joe Hart," the England manager said.
"If I also show a lack of faith in him, which I think he would regard as very undeserving after what he has done for England, then it would definitely affect his confidence negatively."
Hodgson insists he has no problem with Pellegrini's decision to drop Hart.
He expects the City boss to reinstate the keeper in the coming months, but should that not happen, the England manager admits he will be a concerned man heading in to the World Cup.
"I would be a lot more concerned if in the spring of next year as we are building up to the selection if he was a constant reserve, never getting a game," Hodgson added.
"That would bother me but I will cross that bridge when I come to it, but I firmly believe that Joe is such a good goalkeeper that he will get back into the Manchester City team sooner or later."
Pantilimon, a 6ft 8in giant from Romania, kept a clean sheet against Norwich on his Barclays Premier League debut and conceded two against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League three days later.
The Romanian may well keep his position for Sunday's trip to Sunderland.
But should Hart believe his national manager is having any doubts about his long-term future, then he is wrong.
"I believe in Joe Hart," said Hodgson, who has started with the 26-year-old in all but two of his matches in charge of England.
"He has been an ever present. At the moment, he has not let me down playing for England."
Rob Green and Ben Foster are the other two keepers used by Hodgson during his 18-month reign as England manager.
Neither of those two will feature against Chile or Germany, so it will be Forster or Ruddy who start in goal at Wembley a week on Friday.
Ruddy has one cap to his name, but it is more likely to be Forster who starts against the South Americans.
The Celtic stopper has been an unused substitute on six occasions during Hodgson's tenure.
The 25-year-old has only recently come to the attention of a wider audience, however, because of a series of stunning displays for Celtic in the Champions League.
His most notable display came against Barcelona, who dubbed the player "The Great Wall" after the Spanish side's narrow victory at Celtic Park.
Hodgson denies that Forster's promotion would have been quicker if he played south, rather than north, of Hadrian's Wall.
"Fraser has not been held back by playing in the Scottish Premier League, he has been held back by Joe Hart," Hodgson said.
"The fact we admire Fraser Forster and think he is a good goalkeeper has been proved by the fact he is always in our squad.
"I want to put a word in for John Ruddy as well. I know he let in a seven goals (against Manchester City) on Saturday and I suppose that doesn't help his cause but before that he was getting some good reviews for Norwich and doing some good things."
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