England v Montenegro: Bayern Munich 'banter' helps Joe Hart to bat away recent crisis of confidence ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers

The Manchester City keeper has been at error in recent matches

The rehabilitation of Joe Hart, if that were ever the requirement in this England set-up, was achieved around a table deep in the Staffordshire green belt. This being a football community, the medicine that snapped Hart out of lingering introspection following a trying seven days was that old football staple, banter, and the table came with a net.

There really is no hiding place in the testosterone-wrapped St George's Park. Any weakness, sensitivity or embarrassment is quickly addressed. So Hart's blunders against Bayern Munich and in Saturday's game against Everton, became a tool in the battle for dressing-room supremacy when he met Phil Jagielka across the net. The result, claims Jagielka, is a goalkeeper purged of doubt and ready to prove his value in the coming games.

"He's someone who loves the banter more than anyone. It's the same with me, If I'd made a mistake the first person I'd be looking for is Joe to be straight on it. That's the way you've got to take it. You just throw it in, especially losing 10-9 at table tennis and I'm waiting for the next point, you just say 'Bayern Munich' or something, stuff like that," Jagielka said.

"Obviously he comes back to me and they beat us 3-1 at the weekend so I didn't have a leg to stand on. Joe's a great guy and a fantastic goalkeeper and if he can take it like he has done all the power to him. We all make mistakes. We're all human and it's about how far you guys and outside influences want to take it that makes it as bad or not as bad.

"It is always hard. I speak to Joe quite a lot. He sets such high standards, when there is a slight error of judgment, it gets jumped on. He knows himself, as England's No 1, playing at Manchester City, playing in the Champions League, if something goes slightly wrong it is magnified. But he has been his bubbly self. It's the same old Joe. He is delighted and looking forward to playing on Friday [in England's World Cup qualifier against Montenegro]."

The support mechanism around Hart is absolute and understandable, as is the acclaim for Leighton Baines, who comes into the England defence following the withdrawal of Ashley Cole. That Baines has made only 13 starts for England is a measure of Cole's quality in an area of the pitch in which football's mother country can reasonably claim to have world-class representation.

"He has been fantastic for us at Everton, player of the year for the last few seasons," said Jagielka, "but unfortunately for him, the person he has tried to nudge out of the way has also performed very well, particularly in an England shirt. Bainesy has had to be a little bit patient.

"It was widely publicised he was one of the leading chance-makers in the three divisions. Maybe we rely more on Bainesy to create chances than Chelsea would with Ash. He has fantastic quality delivering the ball but he is also a very clever footballer. Let's hope he has a fantastic game on Friday. If a free-kick comes around we have people desperate to take it but not selfish. We can assess which specialist we need to use."

It is less the set-piece flourish that is holding back the national team but the failure to bond cohesively. Jagielka speaks of a quiet confidence in this group, borne of their position at the top of the group and a feeling that England have the offensive players to answer the critics that would have them rooted in the Dark Ages.

"We are a proud nation. We expect our team to go out and give any a game and beat most people," he said. "That's the way we have been brought up. The biggest thing for us is it would have been a disaster if we had gone there [the Ukraine in the previous qualifier] and lost. We went there to put on a performance. We knew a point would be good enough to put us in the driving seat. We need to put both aspects of our game together. With the players [we have] in the squad it looks very positive."

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower