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Ruddy: Hart's still number one

Tuesday 8th October 2013 6:13

John Ruddy says Joe Hart is England's number one goalkeeper and believes recent criticism of the Manchester City keeper affects England's chances of success.

Norwich goalkeeper Ruddy is one of two understudies to Hart in the squad, alongside Celtic's Fraser Forster, for the crucial World Cup qualifiers with Montenegro and Poland.

But Ruddy, whose single England appearance to date came in a friendly win over Italy, for now has no pretensions on the England goalkeeper jersey he believes Hart fully deserves.

"Joe's the England number one. Rightly so," Ruddy said. "The way he's performed over the last few years he's deserved it and he's never let England down.

"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."

Nevertheless, Ruddy believes Hart, like any top-level goalkeeper, has the mental resilience to put errors behind him.

"Nine times out of 10 a keeper makes a mistake, the ball goes in the back of the net," Ruddy said.

"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."

Ruddy insists there are plenty of goalkeepers pushing Hart for his position, should England boss Roy Hodgson opt to change.

The 26-year-old said: "There's plenty of talent around. Joe knows that. Joe 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."

Norwich and England goalkeeping coach Dave Watson could have his work cut out this week, with Hart and Ruddy, who did not have his best day in the 3-1 loss to Chelsea at Carrow Road.

At 1-1, Norwich were pressing forward late on when Chelsea broke from a corner and Hazard pounced on a poor Alex Tettey touch to shoot through Ruddy before Willian capped the triumph.

"I'm obviously disappointed to concede a goal, but it would've been a very good save if I'd have been able to get down to it," Ruddy said.

"He (Hazard) has had the whole goal to aim at and he's put it in the most awkward position for a goalkeeper.

"Looking back I probably would've gone with the leg, but these are split-second decisions you have to make and with the power he put on it it's always going to be difficult to stop it."

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