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HART & SOUL; MONTENEGRO V ENGLAND QUALIFYING GROUP G, TONIGHT, 8PM.

Byline: MARTIN LIPTON

JOE HART faces the biggest England match of his career tonight, determined to keep on rewriting the record books.

The Manchester City keeper, 24, has gone from untrusted third choice at the World Cup to unchallenged No.1 in the space of just 16 months.

Hart's presence has seen Paul Robinson and Ben Foster withdraw themselves from the England reckoning, while Robert Green has also considered quitting.

It is a long-term worry for boss Fabio Capello, who called Scott Carson - whose only appearance for the Italian came in Germany almost three years ago - back into the squad for the decisive Group G clash in Montenegro.

But Hart has justified his status with displays which have set new marks he can add to tonight, ensuring he plays in his first tournament in Poland and Ukraine next summer.

Hart's record of 13 England games without featuring on the losing side is the longest unbeaten sequence for any player since Euro 96.

He has kept five clean sheets in England's seven Euro 2012 qualifiers - a record unsurpassed across the tournament - with Switzerland the only team to have scored against him so far.

He has also conceded just six goals in his 13 appearances, making him the hardest keeper to beat since the end of Euro 96. If Hart can extend all three of those statistics by keeping Montenegro out at the Podgorica City Stadium, it will confirm England's place in next summer's finals.

But the City man conceded this evening represents the next stage in his development at international level.

He admitted: "I've not got a lot of experience of these decisive games.

"I've never played a game as key as this one is going to be for my country.

"With the U21s it's about getting into tournaments, the play-off matches, but this is another level isn't it? "It's a big game and we have a lot of experienced players, like John Terry (below). We have to remember that it's 90 minutes of football and we're playing well as a unit, so we have to bring that into the game."

Hart added: "It's all about results, definitely. I think from day one it's about that.

"Obviously, it's nice to play well, and we want to play well at Wembley and entertain the fans because they turn out in great numbers.

"But the ultimate goal is to get to the finals and we're doing all the right things at the moment to do that.

"Bulgaria away was tough. It was a difficult start and a difficult stadium and pitch. I thought we played well, like we have been away from home.

"The Wales game was a bit cagey, but we got the win, which was all that mattered.

"We didn't play great, but I don't think anybody was too bothered, as we got two wins and two clean sheets."

One Montenegro player that Hart does know is City team-mate Stefan Savic, whose header completed Saturday's 4-0 rout at Blackburn.

Hart said: "Stefan is a good guy, who's come in and done really well.

"He scored on Saturday and everyone inside the club felt really good for him, as he's a young lad who's had limited opportunities.

"There's been some banter with him about this game, but it's a big game for both of us and we appreciate that.

"We respect each other and we're just all looking forward to the game, and potentially what could come out of it for both countries."

CAPTION(S):

NO WAY THROUGH A shot at Hart's goal hits the bar in the 0-0 draw with Montenegro IT'S IN HIS HANDS A clean sheet for Hart will send England into Euro 2012 s
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Oct 7, 2011
Words:616
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