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Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper John Ruddy is hopeful of an England recall in time for this summer’s World Cup in Russia. The 31-year-old stopper is in his absolute prime right now, playing for the unstoppable league leaders at Molineux, proving to be a key part of their success to date.
Formerly at Norwich City, Ruddy thoroughly believes that he is still capable of playing at international level, having made just a single appearance for his country back in 2012 before featuring in various squads without game time until 2014.
Ruddy has been one of the cleverer signings made by Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo and has contributed every bit as much to the cause as those costing big bucks, including £15.8million signing Ruben Neves for example.
Whether or not Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate feels appropriate to include a Championship player in the World Cup squad is not certain right now but surely he’d see that Ruddy is up there with anything else on offer at the moment, in terms of ability.
If Southgate doesn’t choose him on that basis, then he may look slightly red-faced given that Ruddy will be in the Premier League next season anyway and is bound to impress. In terms of quantity, Ruddy of course has plenty of competition right now, but where is the real strength in depth?
Jordan Pickford (Everton) and Jack Butland (Stoke City) are definitely ahead of him in the pecking order but regardless of transfer value and status, he probably mixes it with everyone else from that point. Joe Hart (West Ham) has not been at his best for some time while Southampton’s Fraser Forster can look unbeatable at times but has also made mistakes recently and has been the subject of some whining from Saints fans.
Tom Heaton (Burnley) has been in and around the England team in recent times but is probably no better than Ruddy while Ben Foster (West Brom) and Nick Pope (Burnley) seem out of contention by most reports.
After this then, we’re into the realms of Karl Darlow (Newcastle) and Alex Smithies (QPR) who simply don’t look good or confident enough to be the last line of defence in a World Cup. So Ruddy surely must be bang in there with a chance.
For what it’s worth, I make Ruddy England’s third best at present, which suggests he should definitely be in the squad and be given a fair crack to snatch the gloves for Russia 2018.