Joe Hart believes he would have lost his place as England’s number one if he had stayed at Manchester City and says “something has got to give” in the summer.
Over the course of a decade at the Etihad Stadium the 29-year-old established himself as first-choice goalkeeper for club and country.
Hart should now be approaching the prime of his career but Pep Guardiola’s desire for a ball-playing goalkeeper forced him to leave City in search of regular first-team football. A season-long loan deal with Italian side Torino was rushed through and questions remain over the long-term future of England’s number one.
Hart says it is difficult to look too far ahead because he has not “got a host of things to choose from” and, more importantly, his main focus is now on playing both well and regularly.
“I want to finish the season well, the best I can for Torino,” said the goalkeeper, who Press Association Sport understands will captain England against Lithuania on Sunday.
“I have really enjoyed being part of the club and I want to make the squads for the England internationals. Then after (the end of the season), something has got to give.
“I am not getting too wrapped up in that for the moment. I am lucky enough to have people working for me in terms of the business side of things.
“My job is solely to try to be the best I can and wherever I go for the start of next season I want to be at the peak and coming off the back of a good season.”
Hart promised to “make the most of (next season), no matter where I am” but was not sure whether a return to City was possible, despite their difficulties in settling on a first-choice number one in his absence.
“You know I am never going to answer that question,” he said, when City’s struggles in goal were put to him.
“I have got a lot of respect for Willy (Caballero). I worked hard with Willy when he won us the League Cup.
“I don’t know the keeper they have bought – I have never worked with (Claudio Bravo). I don’t know anything about him.
“It is about what I am doing at Torino, to be honest. I will obviously keep an eye on Manchester City – they are my parent club and one I have a lot of affection for.
“But my focus is England and Torino and whatever happens in the summer, whoever’s jersey I will be putting on next season, is where all my energy and all my passion will lie.”
Before returning to Torino next week, Hart can help edge England closer to the World Cup as he picks up his 70th cap against Lithuania, and he believes the move to Italy was vital in keeping him in the England frame.
“I know that the decision I made to go out and play first-team football was needed,” he said.
“I don’t think I would have played these games had I stayed (at City) because I don’t think I would have had much game time and I think the standard of goalkeeping in England is really, really good.
“It’s a position I don’t take lightly. For me to continue and to try to make the first team for England goes hand in hand with me making first teams at club level and trying to perform at my highest.”
With Jack Butland injured, Tom Heaton and Fraser Forster are his current competition to be England’s number one, with a report recently suggesting Southampton would be keen to bring Hart in if the latter departed.
Liverpool have been frequently linked with Hart and the goalkeeper is open to remaining in Serie A, even if retaining the Italian he learns is tough.
“I think I was always open to it,” Hart said of the move abroad.
“I loved being part of Manchester City and I’ve said on record many, many times, it wasn’t down to a lack of curiosity of other leagues, it was a club I really enjoyed being part of.
“And while they wanted me, there was nowhere else to look.
“But things have changed a little bit. I’m open and I want to be part of the best team I can be part of, that wants me to be their keeper and I want to earn the right to be their keeper.”