Joe Hart 'honoured' as England landmark nears

Wednesday 25 Mar 2015
Joe Hart says he loved his time with the Under-21s

Joe Hart says he is honoured every time he plays for England and is happy to back in with the squad as he nears his 50th cap.

The Manchester City stopper and Roy Hodgson's No1, is two games away from his half-century for the Three Lions – and could reach the landmark within the next week.

"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," he said.

"There are plenty of other English goalkeepers who want to do the same and I am fully aware of that. I have got a lot of hard work to do to keep my place and I am willing to do that."

England v Lithuania

European Qualifier
7.45pm, Friday 27 March 2015
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Live on ITV

England face Lithuania in a European Qualifier at Wembley on Friday before heading to Italy four days later – their first games in nearly four months. 

And Hart says it has been easy for him to change his focus back from club to country after a long international hiatus.  

"We’ve had a lot going on club-wise. Everyone has had their own little stories going on so its good to get back together and get back to qualifying," said the 27-year-old.

"It's been a while but you slip back into England mode straight away. As soon as you put the Three Lions on, it is a totally different kind of mindset and we are ready to go as a team again.

Joe Hart "honoured" to play for England

"I feel like I am an England player when I am away with England and then on the flip side as soon as I am back at my club, Manchester City, I feel like everything revolves around the Premier League or whatever cup competitions we are in."

"I can only speak for myself but personally I have always found it very easy to be away with England." 

While Hodgson's senior team continue their task of reaching Euro 2016 in France next summer, England's Under-21s have their equivalent this year in Czech Republic.

Hart has been to two UEFA Finals with the U21s, in 2007 and 2009, on his way to becoming senior team first-choice, and he believes the opportunity for players to learn from a major tournament is beneficial in their development. 

Joe Hart and Jack Butland

Joe Hart and Jack Butland at SGP

And with five of the current senior squad eligible for Gareth Southgate's squad, Hart has urged them to take the opportunity if it is presented this summer. 

"I loved my time with the U21s," said Hart.

"We had a great thing going and from what I understand speaking to Jack [Butland], it is the same thing going on right now with the U21s. 

"It is the place where they want to be and they want to win the tournament. I can only speak from my personal experiences and I really enjoyed the two tournaments that I went to. 

"It was a little bit different for me – I wasn’t really knocking on the door for a starting place in the first-team. I had had little bit of experiences with the first team but it never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be involved in the summer. 

Joe Hart loved his time in the U21s

"I can’t speak for Harry [Kane] but I’d imagine he would be very excited to represent his country in the summer." 

He added: "There is so much to gain from playing in the tournaments apart from the sheer enjoyment of playing tournament football for your country at a very high level against high quality players. 

"I think we have all seen the blueprint of Germany. That is quite inspirational and I am sure Gareth Southgate will be alluding to that when he talks about drawing people to play for his U21 side. 

"But I am pretty sure the majority of the lads will be dying to be there."

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor At St. George's Park