Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has insisted he can retain his position in the national squad in face of competition from Birmingham City teenager Jack Butland. Hart, 25, also said he welcomed the opportunity to train Butland for the future.
"Jack's a great young keeper, I spoke to him throughout Euro 2012 and during the Olympics. He's a great prospect but he just needs to play now. To play in the Olympics at 19 is a great experience for him. He's got a massive future at the top," Hart explained, adding he would help Butland develop as a player, but was confident in his own abilities to keep his charge at bay.
The City keeper, who played in his first major international tournament in the summer - the 2012 European Championships - made his senior debut in 2008, against Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly. Since then, the Shrewsbury Town graduate has seen off competition from Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson and QPR No 1 Robert Green for the England No 1 shirt.
Former England international Nigel Martyn compared Hart with Iker Casillas, the captain of the Spanish national team and domestic champions Real Madrid. Hart himself has admitted to watching videos of the Spaniard, in an effort to improve his own game.
"He reminds me of Casillas. He got into the team at Real Madrid very early and you can see the career he has had. Hopefully Joe can emulate that because he's doing fantastically well," the former Leeds United player said.
Balotelli is Back
Meanwhile, City manager Roberto Mancini will be delighted to welcome back Italian striker Mario Balotelli, after the Azzurri's Euro 2012 ace underwent eye surgery. The player's surgeon, Emanuele Scuri, was quoted as saying his patient would be ready to play in about 10 days... meaning he could be fit for the 18 September Champions League game against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
New Signing Javi Garcia to Face Madrid
Finally, one of City's deadline day signings is preparing to go home... in a manner of speaking.
Spanish midfielder Javi Garcia was signed from Portuguese club Benfica for £16m on the final day of the summer transfer window and the 25-year-old Real Madrid youth product believes his new club are more than capable of inflicting a defeat on the nine-time European champions.
"The Champions League group is a tough one but it'll be a lot of fun. The Real Madrid game is a great way to start out but we have the team and players to compete against any opposition," Garcia told The Sun.