Hodgson happy with Hart

Joe Hart, centre, retains the backing of his England manager despite Wednesday's loss to Sweden

Joe Hart, centre, retains the backing of his England manager despite Wednesday's loss to Sweden

First published in National Sport © by

England boss Roy Hodgson insists he has no fears over the form of goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Almost since the 2010 World Cup, Hart has seemed like the one player England cannot do without. Yet mistakes that have crept into his game at Manchester City have spilled onto the international scene as well.

On Wednesday night, there were a couple of minor errors, in addition to two major ones, the last of which allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score his jaw-dropping fourth goal in Sweden's 4-2 friendly win. "We are not bothered about Joe Hart," said Hodgson.

"He is a very good goalkeeper. We think we will have a lot of success with him in the goal even if tonight it wasn't maybe one of his best days, this happens in football."

Indeed, Hodgson was pretty upbeat despite the loss of his unbeaten record as England boss in open play - his only previous defeat coming on penalties at Euro 2012.

First-half goals from Danny Welbeck and Steven Caulker in response to Ibrahimovic's opener appeared to have set England on course for yet another victory over the Scandinavians, with 17-year-old Raheem Sterling amongst those to impress.

"Raheem has to be very happy," said Hodgson. "He had a difficult start. The first challenge on him was a very fierce one. It put him on the ground and winded him.

"But he came through that and got better and better. Towards the end he tired a little as one would expect but I have to be satisfied with what he did. He is not even 18, so it bodes well."

Unfortunately, they reckoned without Ibrahimovic, the man derided so often by English audiences, becoming the first player in history to score four times against them. And the coup-de-grace was that quite amazing fourth, an overhead kick from fully 25 yards which England skipper Steven Gerrard said was the best goal he had ever seen.

"Sometimes, you think you are looking at a video game where you can do all these incredible things," said Sweden coach Eirik Hamren. "The fourth goal is not possible."

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