Hart out of the firing line

England boss Southgate will rest maligned keeper for Heaton and Butland versus France

GLASGOW • England manager Gareth Southgate confirmed goalkeeper Joe Hart would sit out today's (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) friendly against France amid uncertainty over his career prospects after a year of turbulence for club and country.

Unlike many pundits, Southgate has refused to criticise Hart for two late Leigh Griffiths free-kick goals during his side's 2-2 draw against Scotland in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday. And he continued to take the heat off Hart by suggesting that he was always going to rest the 30-year-old for the game in Paris.

"I think our intention was always to give somebody else a game," Southgate said. "Whatever it looks like, I'll have to ride that. You've got to keep making decisions for the right reasons."

Burnley's Tom Heaton is set to start the game against France, while Stoke City's Jack Butland will play in the second half.

TV pundit Gary Neville was among those who pointed his finger at Hart for conceding two set-piece goals at Hampden Park.

"I think Joe Hart should save it again," he said of the Scotland's second goal. "People can criticise me if they want but that's poor from the goalkeeper."

Hart is in limbo at club level, having spent last season on loan at Italian side Torino after being frozen out at Manchester City by manager Pep Guardiola.

With City recently signing uncapped Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson from Portugal's Benfica for £35 million (S$61 million), Hart will be in no doubt that he has no future at the club he joined 11 years ago.

While City have yet to receive any offers, he is confident they will not price him out of the market as he seeks a fresh start this summer.

"Something's going to happen, one way or another, but it's almost in the hands of the businessmen now," he said.

"They have signed the new keeper, and I get the direction (in which they are moving). There is no real need for me to talk to them."

Torino cannot afford Hart's £110,000-a-week wages and were not impressed with Hart's five clean sheets in 36 games.

But Hart could take a pay cut should the likes of West Ham, Everton or Newcastle show interest.

While he will not be able to put himself in the shop window today, Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe can.

The 18-year-old, who has been linked with a €112 million move (S$174 million) to one of Europe's big clubs, is expected to feature for Les Bleus.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'Hart out of the firing line'. Print Edition | Subscribe