England 3 Scotland 2: Roy Hodgson resists changing for change's sake after Joe Hart's howler at Wembley

England manager will put his goalkeeper under scrutiny as competition increases for No 1 jersey

It is three years since Joe Hart was installed as England's first-choice goalkeeper by Fabio Capello as the then manager began his overhaul of the squad that had performed so poorly at the 2010 World Cup finals, and it is a position which the Manchester City goalkeeper has never looked like losing.

Indeed, even after his error that allowed James Morrison's shot past him in Wednesday's 3-2 win over Scotland, it is difficult to imagine Roy Hodgson considering a change. But there can be no doubt that one of the golden boys of the new England generation, just 26 years old but with 33 caps already, will be under scrutiny come this weekend.

Hodgson conceded as much in the aftermath of the win over Scotland on Wednesday when he said that, for one thing, the City goalkeeper now had more serious competition for his place that at any other time in the last three years. A realistic type, Hart would no doubt admit as much himself, in a profession in which he has long since steadied himself for the inevitable highs and equally inevitable lows.

Hodgson's first response when asked about Hart was that the player was "gutted" about the error that allowed a perfectly saveable shot from Morrison to elude him. "The first thing he said to me at half-time was to apologise for letting in the goal," Hodgson said. "It is not a perfect world. Good players make mistakes. People you wouldn't dream of missing a goal chance miss tap-ins and keepers who are very good throw them in.

"The important thing for Joe is to get a good start to the season with Manchester City. We still believe in him. I would contest he doesn't have competition. Ben Foster is a good goalkeeper and now we have the experienced John Ruddy back as well. Jack Butland had nothing to do [for the Under-21s on Tuesday night] but he has talent as well. We might not have 20 but we have a good four or five.

"I wouldn't leave him [Hart] out of the next game because he made that mistake. Like everyone else, the competition for places is getting stronger. If I go back a year or even six or seven months, we are getting a little bit stronger. Joe's place is as much open to competition as anyone else's. I can't give guarantees.

"I hope I am not going to be the type of guy who chops and changes at every mistake. I will be watching him closely and hopefully he will produce a few wonder games for City."

English football can be notoriously short-term and Hodgson is in no mood to condemn a key player for one error in a friendly, certainly when you bear in mind Hart's two excellent displays in the friendlies against Brazil this year – saving a Ronaldinho penalty at Wembley and then performing brilliantly during the first half at the Maracana.

Hart will hardly need reminding that his season for City had its lows too, especially the mistake against Southampton in February for which he drew such criticism from Roberto Mancini. There were others too, such as the gift of a consolation goal for Andy Carroll in City's home win over West Ham. As Hodgson said himself, Hart would benefit from a strong start to the season for his club.

There is no doubting that the player possesses a strong mentality for the unique pressures of the job as England goalkeeper, much more so than other contenders who have tried out for the role over the last five years.

If one was to point to a recent costly error in an England shirt it would be Hart's failure to reach the corner from which Kamil Glik scored for Poland in Warsaw in October.

Hodgson did also point out that Wednesday was not the finest evening for England's defence, which looked vulnerable much of the time and is still yet to develop the durability it had with one or both of John Terry and Rio Ferdinand at its heart. It was notable that the manager is yet to try Phil Jones as a centre-half, preferring once again Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill who would appear to be his first-choice pairing now.

If Hodgson has the same group of players come the two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine next month he will consider himself fortunate, and there is a good chance that Rickie Lambert, the match-winner on Wednesday, will be among them. "He has been so enthusiastic and pleased to be with us," Hodgson said. "It was a nice thing to be able to give him this chance.

Hodgson said ‘time will tell’ if Lambert adds to his first cap Hodgson said ‘time will tell’ if Lambert adds to his first cap  

"The fact he has taken it, wonderful, but only time will tell whether he can add to this cap. He will have to accept the competition will get stronger when Andy Carroll gets fit and Daniel Sturridge is back. Then there will be more competition than there was when a not fully fit Wayne Rooney was the clear choice at centre-forward."

It is a basic hope of Hodgson's that he has viable options in each position, and in the next few weeks he will just have to hope his key men stay fit and find form.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific