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Shilton backs Hart to break England record

Harry Harris, ESPNFC Correspondent
September 5, 2012 « Stoke delay naming squad as they wait on Owen | Chartbeat test »
Joe Hart has taken over as England's No. 1 © Getty Images
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Peter Shilton believes Joe Hart will beat his own record of 125 England caps, but fears it could take England 10 years to bring through the next crop of youngsters to make the national team a force to be reckoned with.

With the influx of foreign talent, England mangers have had fewer choices when it has come to the selection of goalkeepers. Hart, though, has cemented his place, and Shilton says if he continues to work at his game he has enough time on his side to surpass his record mark.

Shilton, talking in a new book 'England Centurions' to be launched at Wembley for the World Cup tie with Ukraine, has some sound advice on the eve of Englands opening qualifying tie in Moldova on Friday.

"Joe Hart has done really well, he is still only young, he is still improving, he needs to continue to improve and he needs to work hard at his game.

"What I like about him is that he seems to want to improve and wands to work hard at his game, which he will need to do. He has stepped in and stabalised the England goalkeeping situation which has been a little up and down over recent years, and to be fair riddled with inconsistency.

"I had high hopes of Ben Foster for example but he doesn't seem to have risen to the challenge, but again to be fair it isn't easy stepping up a big level to the England team.

"But Joe has showed a lot of confidence and has started to grow into the position, and if he does work and continues to improve than he can stay the No1 for many years to come.

"He needs to be pushed, he needs to be kept on his toes, because England are relying on him at a time when there isn't a great deal of strength in depth with England goalkeepers, and to be fair there hasn't been any strength in depth now for many years which has been very worrying for the national team.

"My feeling is that you have to go back some time to find English goalkeepers in the Premier League with the technical ability, these days it is more about agility and reflexes than technical know how, and that worries me. The techniques, the real art of goalkeeping has disappeared," said Shilton.

Shilton believes that Hart has the talent and application to reach 100 caps or more but he warned: "Yes, that is possible. It is even possible he can reach my total of caps, but there is an awful long way to go, and I was lucky with injuries and he would have to be the same. Loss of form or injuries are the big hazards ahead of any goalkeeper. But, he is definitely young enough to have a very long international career.

"You can never tell, but I think he has a very good chance. He is at the right age, and there isn't a lot of challenge to his position at the moment."

As for the England team as a whole, Shilton has deep concerns, saying: "The team did OK in the European Championships, but there were obviously a few sides better than England.

"The hope is that in one or two years time that some good, outstanding young players come through and develop.

"How well England do in the future largely depends on how well some of the youngsters develop, because the England team has got to improve quite a bit, as England are clearly behind on their techniques still with quite a lot of teams such as Spain, and even Italy we were not quite as good technically.

"We really do need to improve in the next ten years and I am afraid it could take ten years to get it right. I hope it can be achieved in half that time, but we have got to look at how we are developing the skills and techniques of the right, nine, ten year olds who might one day make it all the way into the national team. If we do it earlier was have to rely on the likes of young players such as Wilshere, and here is a player I do rate highly but we need more of the same, and its not going to happen overnight, so yes, it could take ten years

"For the short term, the England team needs a genuine out and out goalscorer. Wayne Rooney is not quite that sort of player, not an out an out goalscorer, such as say Gary Lineker, and goalscoring like that is an art form, and more recently we had Michael Owen, and before him Alan Shearer, they are the players I would call goalscorers, and we are a little light in that department relying far too much on Rooney.

"I am sure he can still develop for England the way he has for Manchester United, and he is the nearest we have at the moment to a goalscorer. I imagine Roy Hodgson has his work cut out, and he might need a miracle to find an over night solution, however I think its going to take quite a while for England to be a force to be reckoned with.'

*England Centurions is published on September 11, launched at Wembley Stadium before the England/Ukraine World Cup qualifier.

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