Belfast Telegraph

The Punter: Joe Hart just so Hungary to stake his claim

By Robert Fenton

England’s seemingly meaningless friendly against Hungary at Wembley next Wednesday has taken on an added dimension.

It will be the first test for manager Fabio Capello since the World Cup debacle but he will take some comfort in that it’s unlikely to be a repeat of that now infamous day in English football history when the mighty Magyars arrived at Wembley in November 1953 and tore a very good side apart in winning 6-3, opening the door to a revolution in football tactics.

Much attention will focus on the team Capello selects as he must have been very unhappy with what was on offer in South Africa.

The man who did not get a game in the World Cup, goalkeeper Joe Hart, is the 2-9 favourite to be between the sticks next week.

Hart, second choice at Man City behind Shay Given, will not be tied up in the same way as David James and Robert Green for the start of the new season.

But whether Hart is England first choice come the first Euro 2012 qualifier is another matter.

James, who has moved from Portsmouth to Bristol City, is |11-2 to be selected against the Hungarians and West Ham’s Robert Green, who has still not lived down that blunder against the USA, is 5-1.

Hart is desperate for first-team football but while Man City boss Roberto Mancini has boosted Hart’s confidence by predicting he will be the England keeper for the next 10 years, he hasn’t guaranteed him starting City’s opening league fixture at Spurs. In fact, the layers make him a 5-2 chance behind Shay Given (2-7).

Capello will surely introduce some new blood into this game as sticking by the bulk of the World Cup brigade would be a further serious blow to his damaged reputation if England don’t win.

So it could pay to take a chance on Jack Wilshere making his debut from the start at odds of 7-2. The youngster showed up well for Arsenal in the Emirates Cup and has a very bright future.

And don’t be surprised if Theo Walcott, who missed out being named in England’s final

squad of 23 for South Africa, gets a recall and 5-4 looks a reasonable shout as so many will not be used in view of the start of the Premiership.

Paddy Power have introduced an intriguing little market on who will score the quickest goal in the opening fixtures.

A bit of a lottery so to speak, but what’s wrong with Blackpool, renowned goalscorers and at home to Wigan? Odds of 28-1 look attractive.

To start for England v Hungary (not to start) Hills: 1-8 (9-2) A Cole; 2-9 (3-1) J Hart; 1-4 (11-4) G Johnson; 4-11 (2-1) G Barry; 8-11 (Evens) J Milner; 5-6 (5-6) A Johnson; Evens (8-11) T Walcott; 5-4 (4-7) A Lennon; 13-8 (4-9) J Defoe; 7-4 (2-5) P Crouch); 7-2 (1-6) J Wilshere; 4-1 (1-7) R Shawcross; 5-1 (1-9) R Green; 11-2 (1-10) D James.

Bet365: Man City goalkeeper at Spurs on Aug 14: 2-7 S Given; 5-2 J Hart.

Paddy Power: Which team will score the fastest goal on the opening day? Singles only. Chelsea 9-2; Man Utd 5-1, Aston Villa 9-1; Sunderland , Wigan 10-1; Liverpool, Tottenham, Wolves 12-1; Arsenal 14-1; Bolton, Everton 18-1; Stoke, Man City 20-1; Blackburn 22-1; Fulham 25-1; Birmingham 28-1; Blackpool, West Ham 33-1; Newcastle 50-1; West Brom 66-1.

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