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Page last updated at 05:58 GMT, Friday, 18 June 2010 06:58 UK

England goalkeeper debate - Green, James or Hart?

England goalkeeper Robert Green

Green slip gifts USA equaliser

If the debate on who should keep goal for England was intense before the World Cup, it has gone into overdrive since their opening game against the United States.

Robert Green got the nod ahead of David James and Joe Hart in Rustenburg, but his 40th-minute howler let Clint Dempsey equalise a Steven Gerrard strike and earn the US a 1-1 draw.

While coach Fabio Capello offered support to Green, he has given no firm indication of who will start between the posts against Algeria at 1930 BST on Friday.

BBC pundits Garth Crooks and Mark Lawrenson outline who they entrust with the gloves for England's second Group C match in Cape Town.

Would you stick with Robert Green against Algeria or make a change?

Garth Crooks: "Anyone can make a mistake and, provided he gets over it, Green should continue in goal. I would also watch him in training and observe his attitude to convince me there were no adverse psychological effects.

"My issue is should Green have been picked ahead of David James in the first place? Once Capello has made that choice then he must give the keeper at least one more chance to establish himself.

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"If you don't stick with him then the player becomes affected by the issue and what happens if both your goalkeepers get injured and you need Green? You couldn't then expect him to be full of confidence and feel no pressure."

Mark Lawrenson: "I would bring James straight into the starting line-up. One of the problems of sticking with Green is not only his confidence but the confidence of the players in front of him.

"Centre-backs John Terry and Jamie Carragher looked far from comfortable in the second half - I felt they didn't necessarily have total belief in their goalkeeper. James has experience and is the most vocal of all the goalkeepers England posses."

What is the thinking behind your decision?

GC: "It is not a question of loyalty for me, it's a question of Capello's decision making. If he leaves Green out now what does that say about Capello's decision making? He's only had a season to make up his mind!

"If Hart or James came in and either made a similar error would Capello then have to leave whoever it was out for the third game? In my view, managers make decisions and are judged by them just as players are. It's not down to loyalty."

ML: "It's easy to say with hindsight but I always thought James should play the first game anyway. It was such a crucial match and you want people who have experienced it before.

"James is massive and if you're an opposition player you'd look at him and think 'crikey, how big is he!'. Green's still finding his way in international football, it takes quite a long time. I do feel really sorry for him but I just believe James is the better option.

"After the way England played in the first game, Capello would want to worry about as few players as possible and I don't think he would have to worry about James."

How important is experience?

GC: "Experience is everything, especially if you're a goalkeeper. I've had the privilege of playing with three of the best keepers in the world - Gordon Banks, Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence. All made mistakes and none of them lost a wink of sleep over them.

"I am not comparing Green to any of those three keepers - he simply is not in that class - but I can almost guarantee he will not make that particular mistake again. Once you fall asleep at the wheel you tend to stay awake for the rest of the journey!"

ML: "In terms of outfield players you want a mix of experience and young legs. But in defence there needs to be a strong rapport between your back four and goalkeeper, and you can only achieve through experience.

"If Carragher, Terry, Glen Johnson and Ashley Cole look behind them and see David James in goal, they'll think 'absolutely fine'. If they look behind them and see Robert Green, they might think 'good goalkeeper but how's he going to react?' and you don't need that."

Was the goal conceded by Green simply a bad error or did the ball play tricks on him?

GC: "The ball! No, you could have thrown your cap on it and it wouldn't have crossed the line. Of course it was an error, just one of those things.

"It's only reporters and those who have never kicked a ball who would suggest the newly designed ball had something to do with the mishap."

ML: "It was a bad error, end of. To say 'the ball did this, the ball did that,' no. It was a terrible error but Green's got to just move on.

"That's the way he's got to deal with it and, if he does, he'll come back as a better and stronger goalkeeper because of it."

Hart was one of the form Premier League keepers last season - so if he's good enough, isn't he old enough?

GC: "Of course he's good enough, but that's not the point. 'Is there anyone better?' is the question. That's the debate and, because there is no obvious candidate, we all have a view.

"Yet the only view that really matters right now is Capello's."

ML: "Hart's a good enough goalkeeper but he's got no experience at international level so that represents another gamble. James is the smallest gamble of any of them. Why take another gamble?

"Hart is the future, no doubt about it, and he might be the best of the three at the moment. But I don't think you can chuck him in with the media, the scrutiny and everything that goes with it. It's probably too much, too early in his career."

To sum up, why should your pick be in goal against Algeria?

GC: "Players play themselves into a team and invariably play themselves out, but I have played for enough managers to know those who panic and those who remain calm under pressure.

"Capello has done it all and he does not strike me as someone who is prone to panic attacks. Those managers who did during my career [and I had a few] were rubbish and what's more won nothing. Now is the time for cool heads in the England camp so I will stick with Robert Green."

ML: "I've got to say David James - because of the experience, because of his presence, because of his communication with the back four and because of his organisation.

"He's been there and done it on a number of occasions. He's had good times and he's had bad times but he understands the pressure and understands what's needed for England to come out of this match with a victory."

Garth Crooks was talking to BBC Sport's Howard Nurse, Mark Lawrenson was talking to BBC Sport's David Ornstein.



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see also
Green should keep place - Shilton
17 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Gerrard eager for advanced role
17 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
'Sorry' Green vows to bounce back
13 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Shilton backs Green to be number one
01 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010


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