Roy Hodgson has warned Joe Hart his position as England's first-choice goalkeeper cannot be guaranteed as the team look ahead to their final two rounds of World Cup qualifiers while trying to find a way to eradicate their habit of conceding soft goals.
Hart's mistake for the first goal in England's 3-2 victory over Scotland comes after an erratic year for the goalkeeper, both for Manchester City and at international level.
Hodgson intends to play him in the qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine next month but is also aware, with Poland and Montenegro to follow in October, that Hart needs to rediscover his form from City's title-winning season.
"The competition for places is getting stronger. If I go back a year, or even six or seven months, we are getting a little bit stronger. And Joe's place is as open to competition as anyone else's. I can't give guarantees.
"I hope I am not the type of guy who chops and changes at every mistake. But I will be watching him closely in the coming games and hopefully he will produce a few wonder games for City."
Hart's only three clean sheets in his past 11 England matches have come against San Marino, twice, and Moldova. Hodgson made a valid point that the team's defending, as a whole, has not always been good, but he also said it would be wrong to think there was no genuine competition for Hart's place.
"The important thing for Joe is to get a good start to the season with Manchester City. We still believe in him. The first thing he said to me was to apologise for letting in the goal. It is not a perfect world. Good players make mistakes. People you wouldn't dream of missing a goal chance miss tap-ins and goalkeepers who are very good throw them in.
"But I would contest he doesn't have competition. Ben Foster is a good goalkeeper and we have the experienced [John] Ruddy back as well. Jack Butland had nothing to do [for the England Under-21s against Scotland] but he has talent as well. We might not have 20 other goalkeepers but we have a good four or five."
Hodgson's concerns are exacerbated by England's trouble in establishing the kind of reliable central defensive partnership that used to be one of the team's great strengths.
Gary Cahill was at fault for Scotland's second goal, standing off Kenny Miller, and Hodgson also had strong words with his players, including the captain Steven Gerrard, about the lack of closing down before James Morrison's strike.
"The goals are mistakes and we are not happy with that. In some ways it was a good lesson for us. This is what we risk coming up against in the next three matches at home [against Moldova, Poland and Montenegro].
"On the balance of play, we might be creating more goal chances and having the lion's share of possession but we have to be very careful that when these teams break out we are not presenting them with a goal."
Hodgson certainly had reason to be grateful to Rickie Lambert for shifting the emphasis away from these deficiencies with his debut goal and, immediately after the game, the manager all but guaranteed there would be a place in his next squad for the Southampton striker.
That position has now altered slightly, with Hodgson pointing out Andy Carroll and Daniel Sturridge will also be in contention. "It was a nice thing to be able to give him [Lambert] this chance. The fact he has taken it, wonderful. But only time will tell whether he can add to these caps. He will have to accept the competition will get stronger when Carroll gets fit and Sturridge is back."
Despite reports of around 10,000 beer cans being left in Trafalgar Square, the traditional party zone for Scotland supporters for matches at Wembley, the Metropolitan police have said the match passed off with only two arrests, both for public order offences.
The Scottish Football Association now hopes to host the fixture in 2015. The proposal was briefly discussed with its English counterparts at Wednesday's game, with both sides open to talks about staging a game at Hampden Park.
There is an acknowledgement that scheduling could be an issue amid a crammed international calendar, and the idea that the fixture – an annual event from 1947 to 1989 – could be staged each year is not under consideration.
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