Joe Hart: I haven't been playing well but I want to remain England's No. 1
JOE HART has set his sights on keeping the England number one spot after the return of Ben Foster to the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and Montenegro.
The 25-year-old admits his own season has "not been brilliant" in contrast to last year, when he won the Barclays Premier League title with Manchester City and participated in Euro 2012.
And although he welcomes the return of West Brom's Foster after a two-year break from international football, Hart is determined to try and keep hold of the goalkeeping jersey.
"It's great to see Ben. He is a consistent performer, someone I get on well with, when we train and to play against," said Hart.
"It's good to have keepers like that around. There are three top quality keepers here plus Jack Butland and Jon Ruddy, and everywhere you look there is good talent.
"Is Foster good enough to push me? Yes, but I've felt that every time I've come away with England.
"My job when I was first involved was to really push hard. We all train like we are going to play and and push each other and it's really good.
"If anyone of the three played, then we'd be in a strong position."
However, Hart will not give up his position easily.
He said: "I'm in that privileged spot at the moment. I didn't dream of this spot because I didn't think it would happen.
"I'm doing what I've always wanted to do, I love it, I'll keep working and training hard if there are no keepers or 1,000 keepers.
"That number one spot is one I want to keep and last summer (Euro 2012) was a real high point in my career.
"It was one of the best footballing things I've done. To play in a tournament like that is a dream."
Hart concedes himself and City have struggled to maintain last season's standards, but he still refuses to give up the title to Manchester United.
He said: "My season has not been brilliant. It's had its good times but it's football. It's what I love doing.
"I've enjoyed it, it's been tough, things haven't always gone my way. I'm enjoying the fight and getting back in there.
"Sometimes you take knocks, that's football, you take opinions, but you've got to be strong.
"I feel strong, good, that I'm doing the right things and hopefully I can have a good end to the season.
"I understand you have your great nights and sometimes things don't go the way you want. That's the way it is.
"I'm my strongest critic but I would never bury myself. It's pretty obvious when you make a mistake as a keeper, you don't need to dwell on it too long. It's out there."
Hart added: "With City, it's not been last year that's for sure. It's been tough. We are not in the position we want to be in.
"We remain focused and hard on the case of what we need to do. We are still in one cup, a little further away than we would like to be in terms of the league.
"But we need to nail down that second spot and in doing that it will push us to really go for the title as well.
"You can't not go for it. It's a long way off but we've got an awful lot to fight for and it's a big couple of months for us."
Hart knows England will be hot favourites to dispose of minnows San Marino on Friday evening.
However, any fears about conceding a goal against them are outweighed by ensuring England avoid any upsets before the more demanding challenge of facing Montenegro on Tuesday.
Hart said: "I just checked up on them to see if San Marino have scored a goal recently but they haven't.
"Someone is going to concede against them and hopefully, if I'm playing, it won't be me.
"But the main focus is to win. If they score, hopefully we score more and it's more important, the position in the group, rather than looking silly."
It will be a different experience for Hart to play in front of 7,000 fans after the euphoria of beating Brazil at a near full Wembley last month.
He said: "That's the beauty of international football. We can go to stadiums of 85,000 mad passionate football fans and then you've still got to go and do the hard yards.
"You are almost on your own, it's us against them, and it will be another one to tick off. And hopefully we can get another three points in the grand scheme of things to get into the World Cup.
"Everyone is trying to get into the World Cup. It's a great tournament to be in and nations are getting stronger all around the world.
"We feel we are good enough to do it but we've got to do it on the field and not in press conferences like this."