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Gareth Southgate explains Joe Hart’s exclusion from World Cup

England national team coach Gareth Southgate has clarified that Joe Hart’s exclusion from the World Cup was influenced by the impressive form of several other young shot-stoppers from the Premier League. The Manchester City goalkeeper has been the Three Lions’ number one in the last three major tournaments but he won’t be involved this time around with Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland and uncapped Nick Pope picked ahead of him in the World Cup.

Speaking after the decision, Southgate said: “With Joe, we've got three other goalkeepers who have had very good seasons and the decision I was faced with was do I keep Joe in and have experience around the group? Or give the three guys who have basically had a better season a chance? "We felt the players all needed to be in on merit after their performances this season."

Meanwhile, Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand was another surprise exclusion from the Three Lions’ squad but Southgate rather sympathised with the former Chelsea graduate. Bertrand was the country’s first-choice during the qualification phase owing to injuries elsewhere but he has been excluded from the World Cup squad with Danny Rose, Ashley Young and Fabian Delph favoured ahead of him. He added: “Ryan is also very unfortunate in that it's probably one of the strongest positions we have. Ryan has had a decent season but I just felt the others were ahead of him. Both calls were really tough.”

England have struggled to lay their mark in their previous major tournaments and they will be hoping for a successful World Cup this time around after their group stage exit in Brazil. The Three Lions failed to win any of their games during the previous World Cup in 2014 but they are now in a much better position, though Harry Kane’s form remains crucial to attaining success. No one other than Kane netted more than two goals during their qualifying campaign.