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Heaton to replace Hart for England-France friendly

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(L-R) England goalkeepers Fraser Forster, Tom Heaton and Joe Hart take part in a team training session at St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent, central England on March 21, 2017 © AFP/File / Paul ELLIS

CROISSY-SUR-SEINE, France, Jun 12Tom Heaton of Burnley will replace Joe Hart in goal for England in Tuesday’s friendly against France in Paris, manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed.

The 31-year-old Heaton will win his third international cap in the match at the Stade de France, as Hart — criticised following his performance in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Scotland — is left out.

Stoke City’s Jack Butland will play the second half, as Southgate reiterated that it was always his plan to give someone else a chance in England’s final run-out of the season, having named four goalkeepers in his squad.

“It was never my intention to start Hart in this game. Tom Heaton will start and Jack Butland will play the second half,” Southgate told reporters after England trained in the leafy Parisian suburb of Croissy-sur-Seine on Monday.

“Tom has had an outstanding season, and we have got to maintain the squad environment, make people feel involved by giving them game time.

“In the past, one or two goalkeepers have given up international football because they have not had that chance, so I am conscious of keeping them involved.”

Butland is not long back from a lengthy spell out injured, and the decision to give him a chance for part of the friendly means Southampton’s Fraser Forster is the goalkeeper to miss out.

“Jack is coming back from a long lay-off. We think he can also challenge for the number one spot moving forward,” added Southgate.

“It is difficult on Fraser, who is also a very good goalkeeper, but with those four and (Sunderland’s) Jordan Pickford and then a couple of lads coming up potentially from the Championship next year, we are very healthy.”

– Kane captain again –

Harry Kane will once again wear the captain’s armband, just as he did at the weekend when his stoppage-time strike rescued a point for England in the World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park.

The Tottenham Hotspur striker, who has won the Premier League’s Golden Boot for the past two seasons, will again take advantage of the fact England have no permanent skipper with Wayne Rooney now out of favour.

Southgate said Kane would follow in the footsteps of Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, currently recovering from injury but who wore the armband in the manager’s first two matches in charge, against Malta and Slovenia last autumn.

“Harry will captain the team. It is probably a similar scenario to October when Jordan Henderson captained the team in the first game and was starting the second so it made sense to keep it as it was, and it’s the same with Harry this time,” said Southgate, while insisting no long-term decision had been made on the issue.

After Tuesday’s game, England are next in action in early September with a World Cup qualifying double-header against Malta and Slovakia.

“I’m not committing to a timescale on that. I’m not in a rush to make that decision. At some point it’s something we should do but it’s been good to devolve the leadership.”

Meanwhile, fringe players such as Tottenham full-back Kieran Trippier and Middlesbrough centre-back Ben Gibson could get a chance at the Stade de France as Southgate prepares to shuffle his squad.

“You want to come out of a friendly having learnt things from the game. There is no point not having a look at some players, and putting them into the environment you want to test them in,” said Southgate.

“Whether that’s from the beginning or from the bench, it is an opportunity, but also we want to be competitive in the game.

“There’s no game we go into that we don’t want to win, so we need to get the balance and structure of the team right and have a real go at France.”

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