Barnsley stopper Luke Steele talks up Joe Hart before FA Cup meeting with Manchester City

The sides meet at the Etihad with a place at Wembley the prize

Joe Hart is England's undisputed number one and will be for years to come, according to the goalkeeper plotting to outshine him this weekend in Manchester City's FA Cup clash with Barnsley at the Etihad Stadium.

Hart, 25, established himself as England's first choice under former coach Fabio Capello and has started all but two of current boss Roy Hodgson's 13 games in charge.

Jittery displays for England in their friendly defeat in Sweden in November and more recently when City came unstuck at Southampton last month led to criticism, while the emergence of Jack Butland and re-emergence of Ben Foster has reopened the debate on Hart's unequivocal hold on the jersey.

But Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele, who will line up opposite Hart in Saturday's quarter-final, insists the City keeper is head and shoulders above any of his rivals and that all criticism is unfounded.

"For me he's the best, he's proved he's the best," said Steele, for whom Manchester United paid £500,000 to Peterborough in 2002 when he was a teenager.

"He's come under a bit of stick this year from certain people, but there's nobody better than him, certainly not English anyway.

"Joe's still young in goalkeeping terms and he's going to make mistakes and get things wrong.

"But people don't allow for that. He's only human and they should remember that.

"There's nobody better in the country for me in that position and he's showed that time and again.

"Last year he won the Premier League title, so you can't get much better than that.

"He's going to be around for years to come and I've got the utmost respect for him."

Steele will have to replicate the man-of-the-match display he produced on his debut for Barnsley in their famous FA Cup win at Liverpool five years ago if David Flitcroft's side are to pull off an unlikely upset.

The Tykes went on to secure a famous win over Chelsea at Oakwell in the next round before losing in the semi-final to Cardiff at Wembley and Steele will draw on that experience at the Etihad.

"It's great to have some experience of these situations," he said.

"To have been there before is a big advantage.

"After that FA Cup run in 2008 I always said I wanted to go back to Wembley and get rid of some demons.

"We lost the game and I have bad memories about it. I want to replace them with good memories.

"To have another opportunity to play there again is huge and if we can do it on Saturday it would be unbelievable."

Flitcroft promised the quarter-final clash will not jeopardise Barnsley's fight against relegation.

Barnsley have won eight of the 13 games they have played under Flitcroft since predecessor Keith Hill was sacked at the end of December.

But Tuesday night's 1-1 draw at Burnley, following back-to-back defeats to Bristol City and Bolton, was not enough to prevent them from slipping back into the relegation zone.

Team selection this weekend, Flitcroft said, would be made with next Tuesday's home league game with Brighton very much in mind.

"Without a doubt, absolutely. The league campaign is key," he said.

"We've clawed our way back into a position that reflects what we've done over the last 13 games.

"We've not taken our focus off the league campaign while we've been on this FA Cup run.

"Most teams do. Ninety per cent of teams do and always have a dip and a downturn.

"It happened with Bradford. Their league form went completely off, but our league form has been very good - two losses in 11 games.

"We're moving forward well and I won't allow this team, this group to lose focus on that.

"It's absolutely vital that our league form is central to what we're doing."

PA

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam