Predictable decisions: Joe Hart is keeping his place for England

Joe Hart has had a troubled year or two. Going from England and Manchester City’s unquestioned number one to West Ham’s straw to grasp is quite the slip.

But now it looks as if the ‘keeper has been given a big vote of confidence by the England gaffer, Gareth Southgate.

Before the Three Lions waste 90 minutes facing Malta tomorrow, Southgate has informed Hart that he will, in fact, start as number one.

It’s not bad news, because the 30-year-old shot stopper hasn’t done an awful lot wrong. He was just over-hyped a bit and then fell from grace.

But, Jesus, he was better than Claudio Bravo.

The only problem is that England have two, top quality young ‘keepers waiting in the wings and they’re not getting the experience they deserve thanks to Southgate’s tepid, safe and nostalgic management style.

What harm would there be in sticking Jack Butland or Jordan Pickford in over Hart to play a country with a population of about 14?

The shot-stoppers are 24 and 23 respectively and have another 12 years at least to play for England. Hart, on the other hand, has five at best. And even those will be debated. As for Tom Heaton; he’s great. But he’s 31 and never going to take Hart’s place. So why not entrust a younger lad?

Joe Hart is the longest serving player in that England squad. So his inclusion in this essentially inconsequential game just showcases our reliance and obsession with playing the old guard over fresh, young talent.

And that’s no plan for the future.

We have nothing against the West Ham ‘keeper, but we always knew Gareth Southgate would support him. Keeping him in for this game probably won’t have some magic effect on his confidence, nor will it fill Hart with an overwhelming sense of patriotic pride.

It’s frustrating to see players who could be nurtured into the England stars of the future being let down by an overly cautious manager yet again.

Time to move on, Gazza.