Wednesday 25 April 2018

Wayne Hennessey reveals friendship with Joe Hart

Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is expected to play for Wales against England at Euro 2016
Crystal Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey is expected to play for Wales against England at Euro 2016

Wayne Hennessey has revealed his friendship with and admiration of Joe Hart after Wales were drawn to face England at Euro 2016.

The Crystal Palace goalkeeper, who in Saturday's 1-0 Premier League defeat of Southampton again impressed to demonstrate why club manager Alan Pardew has promoted him to his first team, is among his country's key players.

He will be expected to start each of their Group B fixtures against England, Russia and Slovakia, in the same way that Hart is likely to feature throughout for England, and said that when they face each other again next summer it will represent the resumption of a long-term, friendly rivalry, but that he will resist the temptation to contact him.

"I can't wait but for every game I represent my country it is an honour," said Hennessey, 28. "It makes my family proud too.

"Wales have got some fantastic players and a lot of us are playing in the Premier League every week.

"It is a tough game. They have fantastic players and a good manager. We will concentrate on ourselves and try to win.

"They are blessed with goalkeepers, I'm very close to Joe Hart, he's England's number one and has been fantastic.

"Joe's a fantastic keeper, some of the saves he's made over the years have been outstanding.

"I have known Joe for a while because when I was at Wolves I used to live in Shrewsbury. His family used to live not far from me. I played against him numerous times and we kind of stayed together.

"I probably won't text him now but we will see when I do."

Hennessey on Saturday produced two exceptional saves, first from Steven Davis' close-range header at 0-0, and then particularly impressively in the final minutes from Shane Long when the forward was through on goal, and he said: "I saved (Long's shot) with my right leg. It was a big save at a crucial time. I haven't done one for a while - I think I did one for Wales against Belgium.

"Our centre-backs are underrated. I wouldn't be surprised if Scott Dann gets an England call-up and I hope he does."

Saturday's result means Southampton have lost four of their past five games, but captain Jose Fonte, who played for Palace until 2010, believes their coming home fixtures against Tottenham, and former manager Mauricio Pochettino, and Arsenal present the opportunity for them to end their poor run

"We have two home games coming up and we back ourselves against anyone at St Mary's," he said.

"Yes, we've been going through a sticky patch, but those are the games that could bring out the best in us because the desire and fighting spirit are there. We have shown we can compete against anyone and we are not scared of anyone.

"Mauricio is doing a great job there, slowly he is leaving his stamp on the team and we expect a tough game. People talk of Tottenham as possible title contenders, but we need points now and it will be a big challenge.

"I see how much they press, how much they run, how much they are willing to put their opponents under pressure and it looks familiar."

Press Association

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