Hart-ache for Roy Hodgson as he's left with World Cup goalkeeping dilemma

Joe Hart has been dropped from the Manchester City line-up after suffering a loss of form. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

It might be eight months away, the draw won’t even be made until next month but already England manager Roy Hodgson has a sizeable World Cup headache.

It could be that his current first choice goalkeeper Joe Hart won’t get another competitive game before the campaign in Brazil gets underway.

Unlikely, granted, but it is a possibility. At best Hart faces a lengthy spell warming the bench at Manchester City and of course England only have a handful of friendly matches between now and Rio.

So what does Hodgson do? His dilemma is not a concern for city manager Manuel Pellegrini who is unlikely to put Hart back in his team as long as they keep winning.

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart was dropped to the substitutes bench for his team's match against Norwich at the weekend. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Hodgson has two imminent Wembley fixtures against Chile (November 15th) and Germany (November 19th) and he will now have a difficult call to make about who to play between the sticks.

If he opts to give Celtic's Fraser Forster a run out, Hart’s confidence could be diminished further and the pressure on him next time he is asked to perform is exacerbated. But if he doesn’t give Forster some international experience then, come the World Cup, his options look even less appealing. Does he pick Hart, who has hardly played a meaningful game in months or Forster who, on form or not, has not had any game-time at that level?

Notoriously sensible and ever the pragmatist, Hodgson will probably mix and match for the friendly games, starting with Hart and then allowing Forster a taste of the highlife. Hodgson needs to know if an England shirt will weigh heavily on Forster’s shoulders or if, like Andros Townsend, it will bring out the best in him.

Will England manager Roy Hodgson keep Joe Hart as England's No.1 goalkeeper? Credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The last thing he needs, is to discover the added pressure and scrutiny has a debilitating effect on Forster’s performance in the first group game in Brazil. A World Cup is not the time to start research or to give England’s defensive unit a new man to get to know.

Hodgson simply can’t afford to repeat the mistakes made by his predecessors – specifically Messrs McClaren and Capello who juggled their ‘keepers at critical times with disastrous results for everyone involved.

Not that long ago picking England’s number one was a very short conversation for Hodgson and his coaching staff. All of a sudden it’s a much longer discussion - taking on much greater significance.