Three exciting young English goalkeepers to challenge Joe Hart
Joe Hart, 14/1 to win Euro 2016 with England, has endured a difficult time in recent seasons, with his position as Sky Blues stopper seemingly under threat. His role as the Three Lions’ number one, however, has remained largely undisputed.
Increased competition at City this campaign from Willy Caballero finally seems to have paid off, with the England international putting in a five star shift against Bayern Munich in City’s opening Champions League group game.
A string of impressive first half saves, before he unluckily conceded in the dying minutes, reminded everyone why he was once tipped to be among the world’s best.
Goalkeepers usually hit their peak later than outfield stars, with experience crucial for a role in between the sticks. However, younger talents are currently creating waves in the Premier League and, at 27 years of age, Hart may not have much longer to iron out his inconsistencies.
Spain know that with David De Gea protecting the posts, their future is in safe hands, whilst Belgium star stopper Thibaut Courtois has been key to Atletico Madrid’s success over the last few seasons, and will be a mainstay in his national team.
Who then can England call upon to rise through the ranks and give Hart more than hair commercials to be concerned about?
Manchester United prodigy Sam Johnstone was part of the Red Devils’ 2011 FA Youth Cup winning team and impressed on loan to Doncaster Rovers last season. Despite his acrobatic heroics, however, the South Yorkshire club were relegated to League One.
The 21-year-old’s prospects of securing first-team football with a United side in transition are slim, never mind the unlikelihood of garnering enough playing time to push past De Gea.
With Fulham, Ipswich and Birmingham City reportedly interested in Johnstone’s services, a move away from the reserves with a view to a starting spot could see the youngster propelled up the Three Lions pecking order.
Athletic Chelsea academy product Blackman headed out on loan after an impressive season which saw him keep three clean sheets in 12 games, and make two crucial penalty saves against City, as the Blues’ reserves lifted the Under-21 Premier League.
This form saw him snapped up on loan by Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka, but the Spanish coach refused to give first team assurances. Highly-rated Blackman has so far made the bench twice, but only following an injury to former Castilla product Tomas Mejias.
The 20-year-old now has a limited window to push for the number one spot, but is competing with experienced Greek stopper Dimitrios Konstantopolous, and may find his place on the bench under threat when Mejias returns.
Current England Under-21 captain Jack Butland has been on the fringes of the Three Lions senior squad for some time. However, after being hailed as one of the nation’s top prospects, the hype surrounding the Stoke stopper appears to have died down.
With three loans away from his parent club over the last two seasons, including a difficult time with Leeds United, Butland could benefit from some stability.
Possesing just one cap, the 21-year-old is still the most likely to break through and compete with Hart, but just as with Johnstone, a permanent transfer may be needed to stop his career from stalling.