Joe Hart is relishing the healthy competition now that Ben Foster has made himself available for England, but insists he intends to keep the gloves despite a disappointing season.
The Manchester City stopper has found it difficult to maintain last season’s excellent form that helped his side lift the title. Foster, on the other hand, has been in superb nick this season, and his consistency between the sticks has helped West Bromwich Albion compete with the best this term. However, Hart isn’t worried.
He said: "I'm in that privileged spot at the moment. I didn't dream of this spot because I didn't think it would happen. That number one spot is one I want to keep and last summer (Euro 2012) was a real high point in my career.
"My season has not been brilliant. It's had its good times but it's football. It's what I love doing.”
Rather than feel anxious about the increased competition, the 25-year-old believes such a wealth of options can only be good for Roy Hodgson when he agonises over his selection, and Foster’s quality and professionalism can only add to the group.
"It's great to see Ben. He is a consistent performer, someone I get on well with, when we train and to play against. Is Foster good enough to push me? Yes, but I've felt that every time I've come away with England,” he continued.
A bigger concern for Hart is the possible embarrassment of conceding against group minnows San Marino of Friday night. The hosts haven’t scored in a competitive game since their 3-1 home defeat to Slovakia in a 2008 World Cup qualifier, and the ex-Shrewsbury man is determined to keep their barren run going.
"I just checked up on them to see if San Marino have scored a goal recently but they haven't. Someone is going to concede against them and hopefully, if I'm playing, it won't be me,” said Hart.
"But the main focus is to win. If they score, hopefully we score more and it's more important, the position in the group, rather than looking silly."
Hart v Foster – Head-to-head in the Premier League this season
Games – 29
Saves – 47
Clean Sheets – 13
Games – 23
Saves – 83
Clean Sheets - 6