WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
England-Lithuania: Joe Hart to captain hosts in qualifier
Goalkeeper Joe Hart will skipper England in their 2018 World Cup qualifier at Wembley, manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed.
Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Torino goalkeeper Joe Hart will captain England in their World Cup qualifier against Lithuania on Sunday.
Hart, who is on loan at the Serie A club from Manchester City, will lead the Three Lions out at Wembley instead of Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, who skippered the team in their 1-0 midweek friendly defeat against Germany.
Southgate: "It's a good moment for Hart"
The 29-year-old has been captain on several occasions in the past and, with Wayne Rooney out of the squad due to injury and lack of first-team opportunities with Manchester United, Hart has a chance to stake his claim for the armband in future.
"Joe is our most capped international. He has shown great maturity in the way he has recovered from his own disappointment [of having to leave City] last summer," England boss Southgate told reporters on Saturday.
"It's a good moment for him. He's playing well for his club and his performances for us have been excellent.
"Some people will question a goalkeeper as being captain but I did it with Jack Butland in the Under-21s and in the end you are looking for the professionalism and impact during the week, not just on a match-day."
Unlike many of his predecessors, Southgate isn't concerned about having a permanent figurehead captain and he will consider his options for each game.
"I did have to think seriously because we have a squad now with some emerging leaders," Southgate said.
"I've talked before about sharing the responsibility around the squad, and even some of the youngest players coming in have been able to talk openly in front of everybody this week, which is a good sign."
Injured Smalling out of Lithuania clash
Southgate confirmed Manchester United defender Chris Smalling had been ruled out of Sunday's match after suffering an injury in Dortmund.
"He picked up a knock towards the end of the game in Germany. After assessment, he wouldn't be ready for tomorrow," he said.