Ruddy Defends City No One!
John Ruddy has no doubt Joe Hart is England's number one goalkeeper.
Norwich goalkeeper Ruddy is one of two understudies to Hart in the squad, alongside Celtic's uncapped stopper Fraser Forster, for the crucial World Cup qualifiers with Montenegro and Poland as England bid to advance to next summer's tournament in Brazil.
If Sunday's Barclays Premier League match with Chelsea was an opportunity to audition for the number one role, for Ruddy it did not go entirely to plan as Eden Hazard's shot squirmed under his body and he was less than convincing under the high ball, albeit in no small part due to the Norfolk sunshine.
But Ruddy, whose single England appearance to date came in a friendly win over Italy, for now has no pretensions on the England goalkeeper jersey he believes Hart fully deserves.
"Joe's the England number one. Rightly so," Ruddy said.
"The way he's performed over the last few years he's deserved it and he's never let England down.
"I've been in situations before when people are questioning you. It's never nice.
"Without being too patronising, I felt sorry for him.
"He doesn't warrant that sort of attention. He's a top-drawer goalkeeper, one of the best in the world without a shadow of a doubt.
"It's the way the media is - you build people up so far and then chop their legs away when they get too high.
"Unfortunately that's the way the English media goes. Until that stops we might struggle to go anywhere in competitions."
Nevertheless, Ruddy believes Hart, like any top-level goalkeeper, has the mental resilience to put errors behind him.
"Nine times out of 10 a keeper makes a mistake, the ball goes in the back of the net," Ruddy said.
"It's a tough world but every keeper is mentally strong enough to deal with that.
"We're a strange bunch, but you have to be. The self-confidence and self-belief that you have as an individual has to be right up there."
Ruddy insists there are plenty of goalkeepers pushing Hart for his position, should England boss Roy Hodgson opt to change.
The 26-year-old said: "There's plenty of talent around. Joe knows that. Joe sets himself very high standards.
"I'm looking forward to working with him for the rest of the week.
"I'm happy to be involved in the squad and I'm happy to be putting pressure on Joe. He knows there's myself, there's Fraser, there's Ben (Foster), there's Jack (Butland), (and) Robert Green's kept eight clean sheets in a row - you don't do that if you're a bad keeper."
Norwich and England goalkeeping coach Dave Watson could have his work cut out this week, with Hart and Ruddy, who did not have his best day in the 3-1 loss to Chelsea at Carrow Road.
At 1-1, Norwich were pressing forward late on when Chelsea broke from a corner and Hazard pounced on a poor Alex Tettey touch to shoot through Ruddy before Willian capped the triumph.
"I'm obviously disappointed to concede a goal, but it would've been a very good save if I'd have been able to get down to it," Ruddy said.
"He (Hazard) has had the whole goal to aim at and he's put it in the most awkward position for a goalkeeper.
"Looking back I probably would've gone with the leg, but these are split-second decisions you have to make and with the power he put on it it's always going to be difficult to stop it."
Ruddy, who insisted his summer link to Chelsea did not play on his mind, felt Norwich were unfortunate to be beaten, after battling back from conceding inside four minutes to Oscar when Anthony Pilkington levelled.
He said: "We more than matched them for long periods of the game.
"We could've dropped our heads after three minutes, but we never did. We kept on going and gave them a good game.
"We would've been disappointed to come away with a draw, let alone a defeat.
"But (there were) a lot of positives to take from a fantastic performance."
Next for Norwich is Premier League leaders Arsenal, one Chelsea's opponents in a run of seven games in 21 days following the international break.
The Gunners clash comes in the Capital One Cup, with Blues boss Jose Mourinho suggesting he will select an under-21 team due to the proximity of crucial Premier League and Champions League matches.
Right-back Branislav Ivanovic hopes Chelsea can kick on from a promising start to the campaign once action resumes against Cardiff, Schalke and Manchester City.
"When we're back from the national team we have the very tight schedule of games," Ivanovic said.
"I think we have to work very hard to be top, and use all the squad for these kind of games that are coming up for us.
"I think we are (heading) in the right way."
Source: Manchester City MAD
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