For all the buzz around the attacking instincts of Barkley, Sterling and company, if England are to progress in Brazil the defence will be at least as important, writes Glenn Moore.
Friday brought a second successive clean sheet after the home defeats against Chile and Germany and, said goalkeeper Joe Hart: “The team feels good, we are defending well, we are getting our principles right”.
Hart has regained form at the right time after a mixed period mid-season when he was dropped at Manchester City. He would like to move on from that and is reluctant to talk about it in any depth. Asked if he ever feared for his World Cup place he said: “I was just focused on getting back in the team at Manchester City. I have learned a lot this season: that football does not revolve around myself and there are other great goalkeepers around the world. I am at a very good club who have three good goalkeepers, I am part of an England squad that have five or six to choose from. I just know I have to work hard, try and get to the best level I can and be the best option for the manager.
“I am constantly trying to improve, daily, getting more experience, more games. People say goalkeepers mature as they get older, and I hope that’s the case.”
In front of Hart, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill are beginning to look solid. Jagielka said: “It’s getting better. We’ve played 12 games together and not lost. If we can keep that going as long as possible it would be great. It’s all about time. Getting to train and play with him as much as possible. The more game time we get together the more chance to create a partnership.”