Joe Hart is set to be called up into the full England squad for the forthcoming friendly matches against the United States and Trinidad & Tobago. The 21-year-old goalkeeper has impressed manager Fabio Capello with a string of fine performances for Manchester City this season.
Hart, who has already been capped at Under-21 level and is also in the squad for their friendly against Wales in Wrexham next Thursday, is expected to be one of the few surprise names included by Capello for the games in three weeks' time. West Ham United's Dean Ashton has a chance of being included, as does Tom Huddlestone, of Tottenham Hotspur, while the resurgence in form of the Aston Villa pair of Ashley Young and Gabriel Agbonlahor has undoubtedly enhanced their chances.
Although they are friendly games, and the visit to Trinidad & Tobago is regarded as little more than a prestige fixture to aid England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup finals, Capello is taking the gathering seriously. He is considering naming a squad of up to 30 and treating the time he has with the players as a training camp so that he can scrutinise, over a longer period of time, how they behave and train together ahead of the World Cup qualifying campaign which starts in September.
Hart, if he continues to improve, has been earmarked to eventually succeed David James as England's first-choice goalkeeper, with the Portsmouth player turning 38 in August. His main challenger is likely to be Manchester United's Ben Foster, who has just recovered from a serious knee injury, rather than Scott Carson, whose form has tailed off since his error against Croatia in the final qualification game for Euro 2008, although Wigan Athletic's Chris Kirkland also may have a chance of staking a claim.
Hart's rise has been meteoric since he joined City from Shrewsbury Town, for a fee that could rise to £1.5m, just two years ago. He has seen off the challenges of Andreas Isaksson, Sweden's first-choice goalkeeper and Kasper Schmeichel, to be regarded as City's No 1.
Hart produced another fine performance against Liverpool last weekend and yesterday City manager Sven Goran Eriksson described his display as "incredible". On the club's official website Eriksson added: "Joe has been outstanding. I think we are spoiled with the keepers we have at this club and coming to expect that he is playing as well as he is. I always said that I believed that he would play for England, sooner or later, but I think that could be very soon.
"He's matured as a player and as a person this year and in the future I think he will be a real leader. He's a great talent and is already a very good player – and, of course, he will only get better and better."
Eriksson did not say whether he had been informed by Capello that Hart will be called up but it appears the decision has been taken to include him.Reuse content