March 24, 2017 / 10:36 PM / 5 months ago

Hart gives thumbs up to new-look England

LONDON (Reuters) - England goalkeeper Joe Hart hailed the experimental 3-4-3 formation that manager Gareth Southgate adopted against Germany on Wednesday, saying that it was good to see them try "something new".

Although England lost the game 1-0 in Dortmund, their performance was widely praised.

The same formation has been instrumental in the success of Premier League leaders Chelsea this season but is a departure from the 4-3-3 or 4-3-2-1 favoured by Roy Hodgson at Euro 2016 or the 4-2-3-1 adopted by his successor Sam Allardyce, who lasted just 67 days in the England job.

"I love the fact that we tried something new," said Hart. "It's come to light with how well Chelsea have played it and what (Antonio) Conte’s brought to the Premier League.

"It was for a reason; it was to play against the world champions. It was to combat a good team, and it worked well. I was covered by three world-class defenders. Jake Livermore came in and it was a seamless link for him."

Southgate must decide whether to stick with the system for Sunday's World Cup qualifier against Lithuania or, more likely, revert to something more conventional.

Whatever he decides, an injury to Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill's suspension mean he will have to remodel his defence.

Asked about the absence of two of the three men who guarded him in Dortmund, Hart said: "We've got a good conveyor belt, and some really good options. We're certainly not having to downgrade in what we do. It's another opportunity for someone to show what they can do at international level."

Manchester City's John Stones is almost certain to come in, possibly alongside Michael Keane, who played well against Germany. Middlesbrough's Ben Gibson was also called into the squad on Friday.

"Michael Keane was fantastic," said Hart, who said England, who top Group F with 10 points from four games, approach Sunday's game with confidence.

"We are always going to have that dream and that belief that we are going to put this good work to use. We need to make it matter. We need to make it count."

Writing by Neil Robinson, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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