West Ham goalkeeper Joe Hart is repaying the faith England manager Gareth Southgate has shown in him, says former team-mate Shay Given.
Southgate named Hart, Stoke’s Jack Butland and Everton’s Jordan Pickford in his squad for Friday’s friendly with Germany and Tuesday’s against Brazil, though Butland withdrew on Thursday.
But Given says the Manchester City loanee remains the number-one choice.
“Joe has got the jersey and Gareth Southgate seems a loyal boss,” he said.
Hart, 30, has won 74 caps but his position as England’s first-choice keeper came under scrutiny after he was loaned out to Torino last season, and now with West Ham.
Given, a former team-mate of Hart’s at Manchester City, says his form for an England side that qualified for the World Cup at the top of their group will see Southgate stick with the Hammers goalkeeper.
“We didn’t see enough of Joe in Italy,” Given told BBC Sport. “It was important for Joe to come back into the Premier League.
“He is back in the spotlight with West Ham and it’s a World Cup year. Next summer is a big summer for Joe and he’s desperate to hold on to that jersey, with Jack Butland pushing him.
“Gareth has been very loyal to him. When he has maybe dipped, he has stuck with him and Joe has repaid that favour with some big performances for England.”
Stoke City’s Butland is also a goalkeeper Given knows well, having played with the 24-year-old at the Potters.
Speaking before Butland’s withdrawal from the squad with a broken finger, Given said: “I have worked with Jack Butland as well and Jack is pushing very hard.
“That is a good thing for the manager to have, to have that competition. It is good for Joe that Jack is there, and vice versa.
“There is Pickford, there is Fraser Forster and Tom Heaton when he comes back from injury, so the goalkeeping department is very strong and in years gone by people might have said: ‘Where have all our goalkeepers gone?’
“For me, at the minute, Jack and Joe are probably to the two main contenders.”