Joe Hart denies England planned to defy Fifa


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The Independent Football

England goalkeeper Joe Hart insists the team had no plans to defy FIFA and wear poppies in Saturday's friendly against Spain had a compromise not been reached.

Fabio Capello's side will wear poppies on their black armbands after FIFA and the Football Association came to an agreement which means the world governing body's rules preventing symbols on shirts are still adhered to but poppies can be displayed.

Asked if the England players would have ignored FIFA and worn poppies regardless had nothing been agreed, Hart said at a press conference: "No. It's not how we play the game. FIFA are the law.

"We do as we're told, but I think we were always pretty positive we'd somehow be able to show our respects. And that's come, so we don't have to worry about that."

Hart is one of five Manchester City players in Capello's squad for Saturday's game against world and European champions Spain and Tuesday's clash with Sweden, but team-mate Micah Richards missed out.

The 24-year-old expressed his disappointment for his club colleague but expects him to respond positively.

"It's not up to me to pick the squad," Hart said.

"If it was, my friends from school would be playing - simple as that.

"Micah's been absolutely fantastic. He's given everything. I'm really proud of how he's played for Manchester City - he captained us against QPR.

"It's just unfortunate he's not in the squad but I'm sure he won't take it to heart. He'll just keep on training well like he is and pushing to be in that squad."

Hart is looking forward to testing himself against Spain and particularly the prospect of coming up against his in-form club colleague David Silva.

"They're not light years ahead and we're not going to go in in awe of them, because they're a team that we're playing against," said the City stopper.

"We've got some fantastic players and so have they so it makes for a really interesting game.

"I've been around this England squad for a while now, and seen some adverse situations. International football's not always about playing the top three in the world - it's about going to some of the tougher places around Europe and playing real tough games.

"This is a test, playing against the best, and we'll see what we've got."

On Silva, he added: "David's a big part of our team, on the field and off. We get on really well with him. He's a fantastic player.

"It hurts me sometimes to see the Spain team with him not in it. I know he's by far good enough but they've got a lot of quality.

"He's excited to come and play England at Wembley and we're just as excited."

Manchester United defender Phil Jones was happy the poppy issue had been resolved.

"Everyone is pleased," he said. "It's nice for us to pay our respects by showing the poppy on the armband and hopefully we can get the win on Saturday for them."

It has been suggested Jones will be asked to play in a defensive midfield role against the world champions - a position he feels quite comfortable in.

"If I am asked to play in the game I will play wherever the manager asks me to play," he added.

"I am more than capable of playing at right-back, centre-half or in central midfield."

When asked about the mood in the camp following the inclusion of John Terry despite a police investigation into allegations the Chelsea captain racially abused QPR's Anton Ferdinand, Jones said: "It has been as normal.

"There is a great team spirit in the camp and we are looking forward to the game.

"Everything is normal. He is a great leader, a great captain and a great player."

Terry's regular central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand - brother of Anton - was left out due to a lack of match practice.

On his United team-mate, Jones said: "It's surprising (he is not in the squad). Let's not kid ourselves, Rio is a fantastic player and has a lot of experience. Hopefully he can push his way back into the set-up."