Joe Hart says he trusts every one of England’s players ahead of him – and does not believe Raheem Sterling has a point to prove at the European Championship.
Roy Hodgson’s squad is relatively young and inexperienced at international level, with the likes of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Dele Alli and Eric Dier all set to play significant roles in France despite it being their first major tournament.
Hart is one of just three players to possess 50 caps or more, but he is putting no ceiling on the side’s ambitions.
“That’s my mindset, I go in to win every game,” he said ahead of Friday’s friendly against Australia.
“I’m obviously realistic that that’s not necessarily going to happen, you can’t win every game you play, but we’re going to reach for the stars with this team, work hard and make that a realistic aim.
“The past is the past, it’s about what is going to put us in the best position to win this tournament.”
Hart’s seniority, for the Three Lions and at club level with Manchester City, means he could have a key job in helping relative rookies like Danny Rose, John Stones and Nathaniel Clyne settle at the back, but it is not something that concerns him.
“I’ve got a role whether playing it’s John Terry playing in front or whether it’s Stonesy starting his international career,” he said.
“I’m always going to try and fulfill my role in the team.
“But I trust every single one of these players at this level. They’ve proved it at their Premier League clubs and deserve to be in the squad.”
Hart’s City colleague Sterling had a flat end to the domestic season, falling out of the starting XI after his return from injury.
Hodgson gave him 73 minutes against Turkey, during which the 21-year-old saw plenty of ball but faded after a bright start.
Hart, though, believes the heavy-handed treatment he received from the opposition was to blame for that and expects referees to be more supportive in a tournament setting.
“He got kicked to pieces because they couldn’t deal with him, simple as that,” he said.
“Maybe in a championship game a few of them would have been walking a lot tighter rope than they were.
“He was good, I was excited to see it. It was tough for Raheem towards the end of the season, he wasn’t starting games, but that’s gone and it’s a fresh chapter.
“A fit and firing Raheem Sterling can change games.
“He’s got no point to prove, I see Raheem work every single day trying to improve, he knows he’s 21 and he’s going to get better.”