Steven Gerrard thinks Joe Hart still has a lot to give to this England side and wouldn’t bet against the West Ham goalkeeper making a late claim for the number one jersey.
Hart will fight it out with Nick Pope, Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford for the starting berth at the World Cup.
The England international is on loan at the Hammers from Manchester City and has started 15 matches in the Premier League this campaign.
Hart failed to start either of England’s last two friendlies before Gareth Southgate picks his provisional squad for the World Cup.
However, former Liverpool midfielder Gerrard reckons Hart is far from out of the race for the starting position in Southgate’s squad.
“It’s been encouraging that Gareth has given opportunities to young players,” Gerrard said in an interview with Joe.co.uk. “He made it very clear that he wanted to pick players on form and Nick Pope certainly fits into that bracket.
“I know there are a lot of people in the media and elsewhere writing off Joe Hart, but I wouldn’t do that – he’s still talented and a very experienced goalkeeper.
“I don’t think the No.1 is nailed down just yet, so it’s an exciting fight for the guys to all try and go for it. To be honest, I think Gareth’s got a lot of tough choices to make – we’re talking about the biggest stage you can be a manager or a player at – there couldn’t be more pressure or responsibility.
“The goalkeeper situation is one of the hard decisions, but then he also has to choose his centre-back pairing – does he go with a two or three at the back? I’m sure the formation will be flexible and change throughout depending on who the opposition are.
“In every position, I think there’s a big poser and that’s what all the friendlies are for before the tournament – to try things, to give opportunities and settle on combinations.
“There is also still a lot of football to be played domestically and it’s important to get through to the end of the season with a fit squad. This is where Gareth earns his coin, if you like, making these big calls.
“Of course, being a young manager, I’d like to be in a position to make those kind of massive decisions one day, but I don’t envy him having to think about that now!”