Joe Hart is not worried by the lack of numbers in England’s defence ahead of Euro 2016 and feels the unit boasts plenty of quality, Sky Sports reports. Roy Hodgson opted to take seven defenders – only three of them specialist centre-halves – to France, coming in for criticism by pundits and former internationals.
But Hart is sure the defensive players Hodgson has picked, plus midfielder Eric Dier if needed, will be enough to sustain a long run in the tournament.
England fly to Marseille on Friday ahead of their opening game against Russia on Saturday evening, and Hart says the defensive group working hard in training is ready for action.
“I feel it’s very balanced and very comfortable,” the Manchester City goalkeeper said when asked about the criticism of Hodgson’s selection.
“Maybe the numbers aren’t there, but the seven potential defenders picked that are in the squad, and obviously with Eric as well able to slot in, are really high-level players.
“With England, you usually only get a couple of days together, but we are now here for a couple of weeks and we feel really together and comfortable with each other – we definitely do.
“There is a good link between the midfield and the defence and we feel strong. “I don’t really know what criticism you are referring to, but that’s always going to happen. Someone’s going to get scrutinised, something is going to be scrutinised.
“The important thing to me is that the coaching staff and players, we believe in the players that are here. We feel confident and comfortable as a unit and we are ready.”
England have been preparing for the Russians for around three weeks and Hart says there is clarity within the squad about their opening task even though Hodgson has a number of possible formations to choose from, and is keeping his cards close to his chest.
“We are very clear of all the different ways that we play,” he added. “When we want to bring them in and when we don’t want to bring them in.
“Under small instruction from Roy, we can chop and change in a game. We work together as a unit and we are definitely ready for Saturday.” And Hart has been enjoying working alongside sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, who is renowned for his work with Olympic athletes.
“He is a good addition, a fresh addition and he is there if you need him,” Hart said. “I am open, but it is more of a group thing. We sit down as a group, work together and with all the meetings we do, try to get the best out of each other.”