Gareth Southgate says Joe Hart’s international career is not over despite being left out of England’s Russia 2018 World Cup squad.
The experienced Hart has 75 England caps but Southgate opted for Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and Nick Pope when choosing his goalkeepers for Russia this summer.
Asked about the decision on Thursday, Southgate said: “Of course it was a difficult call.
“Joe played in most of our qualifying matches, he’s been a big part of the England team the last few years, and he’s a valued member of the squad.
“But in the end, I’ve got to look at performances over the last 18 months with their clubs, and the three lads we picked were the three best goalkeepers in the league this year.”
Hart remains a Manchester City player but has been on loan at Torino and then West Ham over the last two seasons and it is unclear where he will play next season.
However, Southgate made it clear that a settled and in-form Hart could easily return to the England fold.
“I pick players on form and, if he’s playing well for his club, why wouldn’t we select him?” said Southgate.
“There’s no reason for this to be the end. He has an important career decision this summer and I hope he can be back at his very best.”
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere was the other high profile omission from the squad and Southgate said that, while the 26-year-old had been in contention, the selected midfielders had done more in his opinion.
“Jack has of course been in our thoughts,” the manager said. “We selected him in March but he has not played a game for us.
“We’ve been really pleased with the way the team played in November and March.
“The only midfielder we’ve added into it is Fabian Delph, who I think has had an unbelievable season at Manchester City, the champions.
Southgate says Jack Wilshere fell just short when it came to selecting his midfielders
“I thought Jack had a good spell in the lead-up to Christmas and just after, but was maybe not as effective towards the end of the season.
“We think the other guys have played very well and deserve their place in the squad.”
Southgate said neither Hart or Wilshere had asked not to be considered as standby players and that he had taken the decision not to include them on the list.
Liverpool’s Adam Lallana has been named as a standby, despite having not played much football this season due to injury.
Southgate said: “It’s been a really frustrating season for him.
“Under normal circumstances, given the amount of football he has played, he wouldn’t be anywhere near the squad.
“Who knows what happens? He maybe has a big impact in the Champions League final and we have an injury.
“The reality of the conversations I’ve had with him are that, to find the level of performance on the back of the limited minutes he has had – he’s only started two games this season – is going to be really difficult.”