Hart excited by England milestone

Published: Wednesday 25th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Joe Hart feels at the peak of his powers as he prepares to enter an illustrious club of English half-centurions.

If the 27-year-old plays against Lithuania and Italy over the next week he will become the sixth – and youngest – England goalkeeper to bring up his half-century.

Peter Shilton was 33 when he made his 50th appearance, David Seaman was 35, Gordon Banks 30, David James 39 and Ray Clemence 31.

A level-headed and grounded person, Hart will not celebrate until he has his 50th cap in his hand, but he knows the potential is there for him to go on and achieve even bigger milestones, like the 125-cap record currently held by Shilton.

”I could potentially get 50 caps (against Italy),” the Manchester City goalkeeper said.

”I am knocking on those kind of tallies at the moment which is exciting.

”I am honoured to play every single game I have done for England and for it to be 48 so far is fantastic but I just want to keep playing.

”I don’t ever see any end. I don’t want there to be an end. You can’t finish one game and think: ‘that is me sorted’, I want to keep going, I keep preparing for games and hopefully I keep playing in them.

“It’s exciting of course, but I want to get there first.”

Hart’s talent has never been in doubt, but his ability to cope with the pressure placed on his shoulders has at times come into question.

Last season he was dropped by Manuel Pellegrini after a series of high-profile errors.

But the City boss has only dropped the goalkeeper on two occasions in the league this term despite the arrival of Willy Caballero.

“I needed to (improve this season),” Hart said.

“I look to improve every single season and in every single situation my experiences is broadening. I’m getting more games and having a different role in the team. I’m looking to improve and the moment I’m not looking to improve is the time to stop playing.”

Hart has been playing so well recently that he managed to restrict Barcelona to just one goal at the Nou Camp in the Champions League last week even though the Catalan giants swamped the away goal from start to finish.

Lionel Messi was so impressed by Hart he described him as a “phenomenon”, and Luis Suarez was moved to embrace the Englishman after he brilliantly saved Neymar’s shot at the death.

“Yes, definitely,” Hart said when asked if the performance had worked wonders his for confidence.

“It was a good night for me personally, making saves against some of the best players in the world.

“You’ve got to believe in what you’re doing, be strong in what you do and stuff like that (performance against Barca) isn’t going to harm it.

“They (Messi and Suarez) are human beings and appreciate that I was making a lot of good saves.”

Hart seemed uncomfortable when Messi’s words were put to him.

“I would like to see how he worded it. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t quite as simply as that,” Hart said.

“He was obviously asked about the game and he has to make comments so I am not going to get too carried away with it. He is a fantastic player and for him to comment on me is great but I’m not getting carried away.”

Hart has been tested by in-form duo Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney during training at St George’s Park.

His toughest training assignments come back at City though where he is pitted against the best striker he has ever faced.

“Messi is awesome, but (Sergio) Aguero is probably the toughest I’ve faced,” he said.

“He just knows how to score.”

Kane may have scored 29 goals this year, but Rooney remains the best English forward in Hart’s eyes.

“He’s our captain, he’s our leader and he’s soon to be the leading goalscorer for his country. He’s won over 100 caps and he’s our main man,” Hart added.

Published: Wednesday 25th March 2015 by The News Editor

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