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England have not had an established No.1 since David Seaman, according to Peter Schmeichel, with the legendary Dane left wondering why Joe Hart has tumbled into the abyss as current hopefuls struggle to stake serious claims for a long-term role.
Nick Pope is taking in a testing start to 2020-21 with Burnley, though, while Dean Henderson is filling back-up duties behind David de Gea after returning to Manchester United.
Schmeichel feels a nation of England’s stature should have an obvious choice to be their last line of defence, with fingers having been pointed at their goalkeeping crop for some time.
Hart was a mainstay in the side for a while, as was David James before him, but both saw costly errors lead to criticism being aimed in their direction – to the point that they eventually fell out of favour.
Schmeichel, who spent time with Manchester rivals United and City during his iconic career, believes England have been lacking a solid option between the sticks since the turn of the century, when Arsenal great Seaman was edging towards the end of his international career.
“What you're talking about here is three goalkeepers: one Pickford has played for England for three years and made mistakes in the Premier League — those are your words — one Henderson is not playing at all, played last season for Sheffield United, you know; and the other Pope plays for Burnley, who are rock-bottom of the Premier League,” Schmeichel, who earned 129 caps for Denmark and is due to see his nation face England in the UEFA Nations League on Wednesday, told The Times.
Pressed as to which of the options available to Southgate he would choose, Schmeichel added:“When was the last time England had a No.1?
“Joe Hart is still playing. Why is he not the No 1? Hart is only 33 years old. He's probably in his prime.
“The question, for me, would probably be answered with David Seaman. He's probably the last No.1 you had.”