London (AFP) – Former England first choice goalkeeper Joe Hart admitted he is finding it hard to accept being omitted from the England World Cup squad by Gareth Southgate.
The 31-year-old — England’s number one goalkeeper at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cup finals — has suffered a dramatic fall from grace since Pep Guardiola sent him out on loan once he became Manchester City manager in 2016.
Hart’s case for selection amongst the three goalkeepers to go to Russia had not been enhanced by inconsistent form at Premier League strugglers West Ham, whom he joined after a season in Serie A with Torino.
The 75-times capped stopper — only Peter Shilton with 125 has won more caps in goal for England — lost out to uncapped Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope, Everton’s Jordan Pickford and relegated Stoke City’s Jack Butland.
“Not going to lie, I’m gutted,” Hart wrote on Instagram alongside an image of the England crest.
“After 2 years of trying to make the most of a really tough situation, this is hard to take.”
Hart said he was proud of the significant role he had played in England securing their passage to Russia.
He played in nine of England’s 10 qualifiers, captaining the side at home to Lithuania and producing a man-of-the-match display in Slovenia to sneak a 0-0 draw in Southgate’s first match on the road.
“I’m proud to have put in the graft and play every minute to qualify with the team and have a really important input in that outcome,” said Hart.
“I know what I bring to the team, but it is what it is.
“Good luck to the team out there, the players know that even though I won’t be there, I will have my England shirt on as a fan this time and supporting all the way.”
Hart’s disappointment at missing out was echoed by Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, who Southgate said was not selected as others had shown stronger form in the latter part of the season.
“Think it’s about time I had my say,” Wilshere tweeted.
“It goes without saying that I’m naturally incredibly disappointed to have been left out of the England squad for the World Cup.
“I’ve felt fit, sharp and strong all season and believe I should be in the squad!
“And given the chance I could have made a real impact.
“However, I have to respect the manager’s decision and would like to wish the whole squad all the very best for the tournament,” added 26-year-old Wilshere, who won the last of his 34 caps in the humiliating Euro 2016 last 16 defeat by Iceland.