League One boss Sam Ricketts has admitted he held talks with former Man City and West Ham stopper Joe Hart over a possible return to Salop at the tail end of his career,
The 33-year-old has been released by Burnley and is now a free agent and Ricketts wanted to take him back to the club where he started his career. Before his two Premier League titles and 75 England caps, Hart appeared 54 times for his hometown club in the lower reaches of the Football League.
He made a switch to Man City in 2006 for a fee thought to be worth around £1.5m to Salop, and went on to have a stellar career. However, since 2016 things have been tough for Hart, with loan spells at Torino and West Ham failing to materialise into permanent fixtures. He spent two years with Burnley but made just 24 outings in total.
Ricketts admitted he did make a suggestion to Hart for an emotional return, but that the keeper still harbours ambitions to play at the highest level.
“It’s something that I put to him and his people,” Ricketts told the Shropshire Star. “I said ‘do you fancy coming back’, but he’s ready to continue his career at the highest possible level. He has interest from top-level teams so it’s not going to be one for us, sentiment doesn’t rule the head on this one.”
Hart played 75 times for England, including two trips to a World Cup, but last featured in 2017 whilst on loan in Italy.
Whilst this would be an emotional move for Hart, at 33 he should be approaching the peak of his career, not dropping into League One.
We can certainly see him back at Salop before the very end of his career, but they’ll have to wait a few years for him to get some more top-flight appearances. The truth is this; he’s a good keeper who has been down on his luck.
Expect him to surface at the top end of the Championship, if not a top-flight team and have a couple of decent years.