Joe Hart has been left out of the England World Cup squad
England's number one for so long - and he's not on the plane
It’s a development which somehow manages the unusual feat of being surprising - and yet, not totally unexpected.
With the squad due to be announced in full on Wednesday, it is understood that goalkeeper Joe Hart will become the first high-profile omission from Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The 31-year-old has 75 caps for England and has traveled to every major tournament since the 2010 World Cup, being the number one in the last three, yet has suffered for his poor season on loan at West Ham.
His spell at the Hammers came after Pep Guardiola decided two years ago that he was surplus to requirements as Manchester City - he spent last season on loan at Italian club Torino, with mixed results.
He was told in a phone call on Monday from Southgate that he would not even be going as third-choice backup, despite being the manager’s number one for much of his tenure, and starting a game as recently as November, when he played against Brazil in a friendly.
Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Stoke City’s Jack Butland have both jumped ahead of Hart in the matches since then, with the keeper enduring a difficult season, losing his place to Adrián at the end of November and only starting 19 league games. His last appearance was in a 4-1 defeat to Arsenal a month ago.
It is understood that Burnley’s uncapped goalkeeper Nick Pope will instead travel as the third-choice keeper.
Hart still has a year left on his contract at City and, at the age of only 31, his best years as a keeper could still be in front of him - but this will come as a crushing blow in the meantime.
It remains to be seen if Gareth Southgate decides to spring any more surprises in his full squad announcement, which is due on Wednesday (16 May).