‘I knew about two hours before kick-off’ – Green wants England boss to make early World Cup decision
PUBLISHED: 09:57 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:57 15 May 2018
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Former Norwich City goalkeeper Robert Green has called on England boss Gareth Southgate to name his World Cup number one before departing for Russia, having been given just two hours notice that he would start the 2010 tournament.
Southgate admitted during the last international break in March that he had not settled on a number one, echoing Fabio Capello’s uncertainty eight years ago.
Green only learned he would take the field against the United States in Rustenburg on the evening of the match and went on to gift Clint Dempsey an equaliser before being dropped for David James.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford is favourite to get the nod ahead of Jack Butland, Joe Hart and outsider Nick Pope but, with Southgate naming his 23-man squad on Wednesday, Green hopes for a swift decision.
“The age old thing of saying ‘it’s up for grabs’ doesn’t really help the situation. A goalkeeping unit is different from outfield, the psychology is different,” he told Press Association Sport.
“Privately, by the time the friendlies are done the lads would want to know. As a goalkeeper you feel like if you’re treated like adults and have your position explained to you, you respect that. You might not agree with it, but you get on with it.
“In South Africa, I knew about two hours before kick-off and that didn’t help.
“There’s stark differences in the roles and the ways you prepare. In 2010 that didn’t help, the nervous energy you’re burning off, the continuous phone calls from family, friends, the press, all trying to find out who was playing when nobody knew.
“You try and relax but inevitably it comes down to ‘am I playing or not playing?’.”
Green, who has spent the season as back up at Huddersfield, had been called up for the 2006 World Cup while still a Norwich player but suffered a groin injury in a warm-up game against Belarus and had to pull out.
The 38-year-old, who made 241 appearances for Norwich between 1999 and 2006, understands why Pickford has moved into pole position and believes Southgate will be most attracted to his distribution.
Manchester City’s Ederson has become the standard-bearer of the “new movement” where a keeper is judged as much for his footwork as his handling and Green sees similar qualities in the former Sunderland stopper.
“How people are looking to play, using the whole pitch, has changed and one of the starting points is the goalkeeper,” he said.
“It’s a fundamental part of the job now and Jordan is the epitome of that, as Ederson is for Manchester City. England are clearly trying to take on that City philosophy, with fewer resources.
“It lends itself to Jordan playing because he’s part of that new movement.”
That would spell bad news for Hart, the third wheel to Green and James in 2010 but undisputed first choice for the past three tournaments.
He played all but one of England’s World Cup qualifiers but has seen his status diminish after two tricky seasons on loan at Torino and West Ham.
“In an ideal world you’d have someone like Joe playing every week at one of best teams in the country but that isn’t happening. That’s why the question has arisen,” said Green.
“If Joe was still at Manchester City now, playing in that team, I don’t think we’d even be speaking about it. Football moves on so quickly.”