Football - Hodgson to keep an eye on Hart

Roy Hodgson would not axe Joe Hart for the blunder that prompted a half-time apology from the England goalkeeper at Wembley - but he has been warned no-one's place in the Three Lions fold is guaranteed.

PA Sport
Football - Hodgson to keep an eye on Hart

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Joe Hart apologised for his error against Scotland

After three seasons as England's undisputed number one, Hart is suddenly under pressure following an inexplicable blunder to gift Scotland their opening goal.

Although James Morrison's 25-yard shot had plenty of venom and dipped in the manner most modern lightweight balls do, Hart should still have kept it out.

Instead, the Manchester City man appeared to be in completely the wrong position and succeeded only in diverting the ball into the corner of his goal.

Although Hodgson was not happy with some of his side's defending from Shaun Maloney's corner, Hart was the man to blame. At least he was big enough to accept it.

"He was gutted," said Hodgson.

"The first thing he did at half-time was apologise to me for letting in the goal.

"But it is not a perfect world. Good players make mistakes.

"I wouldn't leave him out of the next game because he made that mistake.

"Like everyone else though, the competition for places is getting stronger.

"The important thing for Joe is to get a good start to the season with Manchester City."

The argument has been made many times before that man-for-man, Hart is the most important member of Hodgson's squad because he is significantly superior to his nearest rival.

It is not a stance likely to find agreement with the England manager, who persuaded Ben Foster to return to the fold last season and bolster a goalkeeping department he insists he improving.

"I would contest Joe doesn't have competition," said Hodgson.

"Ben Foster is a good goalkeeper and now we have the experienced John Ruddy back as well. Jack Butland also has talent.

"We might not have 20 but we have a good four or five."

Enough for Hodgson to consider alternatives should Hart's error count rise next month when England take on Moldova and Ukraine in vital World Cup qualifiers.

"Joe's place is as much open to competition as anyone else's," said Hodgson.

"I can't give guarantees.

"I hope I am not going to be the type of guy who chops and changes at every mistake but I will be watching him closely in the coming games.

"Hopefully he will produce a few wonder games for City."

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