MANCHESTER CITY defender Micah Richards has no doubt Joe Hart remains England's best goalkeeper, and one of the finest in the world.
Hart (pictured) lost his place in the City side earlier this month after a series of error-hit displays.
After five games on the bench, manager Manuel Pellegrini restored him for Tuesday's 4-2 Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen and he did not disappoint.
The 26-year-old was not at fault for either of the goals conceded and he made two particularly good saves as City laboured in the second half.
Richards said: "In my opinion, he's one of the best in the world.
"Obviously as a player you always go through difficult times, but the best always rise to the top and he is top three in the world and definitely the best in England, that's for sure.
"I think he's mature enough, he's bright enough to get over this sort of hurdle.
"Everyone goes through a difficult spell in their career. He has gone through it and he's one of the best so he will get over it."
Hart's performance followed on from a good showing for England last week but it remains to be seen whether he retains his place for Sunday's Premier League clash against Swansea.
Costel Pantilimon has been given a chance by City boss Manuel Pellegrini and has done little wrong.
Pellegrini was non-committal when asked after the game who would play at the weekend.
Richards does feel that Hart, having been long established as number one for City and England, is judged by tougher standards than his contemporaries.
He said: "Every keeper makes mistakes but when you are England's number one, it is a lot harder than normal."