Joe Hart is undoubtedly England’s number one according to John Ruddy
has no doubt that Joe Hart
is still the best goalkeeper in England.
The Norwich stopper is one of two understudies to Hart in the squad, alongside Celtic's uncapped Fraser Forster, for the crucial World Cup qualifiers with Montenegro and Poland.
But for now, Ruddy, whose single England appearance to date came in a friendly win over Italy, admits Manchester City No1 Hart deserves to keep his place in Roy Hodgson’s first team.
He said: "Joe's the England No1 and rightly so.
"The way he's performed over the last few years he's deserved it and he's never let England down.”
Hart’s recent displays for his club side have been under scrutiny and Ruddy believes the level of criticism his fellow stopper has been subjected to affects England's chances of success.
He added: "I've been in situations before when people are questioning you. It's never nice.
"Without being too patronising, I felt sorry for him.
"He doesn't warrant that sort of attention. He's a top-drawer goalkeeper, one of the best in the world without a shadow of a doubt.
"It's the way the media is – you build people up so far and then chop their legs away when they get too high.
"Unfortunately that's the way the English media goes. Until that stops we might struggle to go anywhere in competitions."
Yet despite his critics, Ruddy believes Hart, like any top-level goalkeeper, has the mental resilience to put errors behind him.
The 26-year-old added: "Nine times out of 10 a keeper makes a mistake, the ball goes in the back of the net.
"It's a tough world but every keeper is mentally strong enough to deal with that.
"We're a strange bunch – but you have to be! The self-confidence and self-belief that you have as an individual has to be right up there.
"There's plenty of talent around. Joe knows that. He sets himself very high standards.
"I'm looking forward to working with him for the rest of the week.
"I'm happy to be involved in the squad and I'm happy to be putting pressure on Joe.
“He knows there's myself, there's Fraser
, there's Ben Foster
, there's Jack Butland
, and Robert Green
's kept eight clean sheets in a row - you don't do that if you're a bad keeper."
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