Joe Hart
Joe Hart was left on the bench against Sunderland, Steaua Bucharest and Stoke City PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Sam Allardyce has reassured Joe Hart that he will be included in his first England squad for the opening 2018 Group F World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on 4 September. The Manchester City goalkeeper is currently subject to intense transfer speculation after being dropped and replaced by Willy Caballero for all three of his club's opening competitive fixtures of the season under Pep Guardiola.

While a proposed loan move to Everton before the upcoming transfer deadline would likely provide an immediate return to regular first-team football, his current situation at the Etihad Stadium may have given cause for concern that he would be overlooked for international duty despite having served as England's number one for several years.

Southampton's Fraser Forster and Burnley captain Tom Heaton – both of whom provided cover for Hart during a disastrous Euro 2016 campaign in which he conceded notably soft goals against both Wales and Iceland amid criticism of his overly-excited approach – are among his chief rivals for a starting berth, although Allardyce appears certain that Hart will at least travel for the match in Trnava.

"I think so," he told Sky Sports News. "I think that in terms of picking Joe and what a goalkeeper that he is, he will be in the squad definitely. What do we do, I won't really know that until I speak to Joe and that will be the same for most of the players when they arrive.

"What frame of mind are they in? How are they from a health point of view, from a mental and psychological point of view? [We will] make the right selection for Slovakia away and start with a victory hopefully. "

Allardyce has been busy shaping his backroom staff over recent weeks, with right-hand man Sammy Lee now joined by Leicester City assistant Craig Shakespeare, who will operate as first-team coach following the failure to bring Bayern Munich's Paul Clement on board, and former Wales goalkeeping coach Martyn Margetson.

The new manager previously refused to confirm at his first press conference whether or not Wayne Rooney would remain as captain under his leadership and is set to reveal a decision over the armband when he announces that maiden squad this Sunday (28 August).

"He's [Rooney] broken every record at league level, Champions League and international level. He's a very, very good captain and you'll know if he's still my captain once I've picked my squad."