Roy Hodgson feels Joe Hart will have a key say on how England perform at Euro 2012, claiming he can be as influential as the great Gordon Banks.
Hart is the undoubted first choice for England, with 18 caps to his name. With fitness doubts all over the pitch, Hodgson is relieved to have an assured presence at the back and believes he has a top-class keeper in the same mould as 1966 World Cup winner Banks to call on.
“If you look at the top England teams of the past we have often had a goalkeeper that people have suggested is one of the best in Europe or, in the case of Gordon Banks, one of the best in the world,” England boss Hodgson said. “Joe Hart will be vital. His form for Manchester City has been superb. When he has played for England he has done very well.
“If we are to do well there is no doubt we will need Joe in top form. He produces the saves a normal keeper wouldn’t. That lifts your team higher up. It also gives confidence.
“I agree 100 per cent with Brian Clough’s view; he always placed great faith in goalkeepers. Brian felt they got you a lot of points every year.“
Having been third choice for England at the 2010 World Cup, Hart is looking forward to his first true tournament test on the back of Premier League glory with Manchester City.
“Hopefully, it’s just coming up nice for the France game,” he said. “We’ll have a great group of fans behind us, we will be united as a team and we’ll give it a real good go.”