Months of speculation, scrutiny and intrigue come to a head on Wednesday afternoon, when the 23 men charged with taking on the world’s best this summer are revealed.
Their delight will contrast markedly with the disappointment of those missing out, with Hart – comfortably England’s most-experienced player – said to have missed the cut.
Despite the 75-cap goalkeeper’s struggles for form and game-time, Southgate spoke glowingly about his professionalism and leadership when third-fiddle to Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland in March’s international meet-up.
The England manager also underlined the importance of the West Ham loanee’s role in getting his country to the World Cup and just last August called the criticised shot-stopper the country’s “best goalkeeper”.
But Burnley’s Nick Pope has reportedly usurped him in pecking order after Southgate called Hart on Monday to tell him he would not be in the squad heading to Russia.
It is a bold – and no doubt difficult – call, but Southgate said in March that he was being “really straight with him throughout” the selection process.
“Joe’s professionalism has been brilliant with us,” the England boss said after the March friendlies. “He’s always performed well for us.
“We had the best defensive record in Europe in qualifying.
“This week, even though he knew he wasn’t going to be involved in the games, he’s been a positive influence on the other players.”
Neuer, Germany’s captain and goalkeeper, has not played since September and still has to prove his fitness ahead of the June 14 start to the World Cup finals in Russia.
While Goetze misses out, coach Joachim Loew pulled a surprise by handing Freiburg striker Nils Petersen a first call-up.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) May 15, 2018
The Brazilian football federation on Monday announced the 23-man party which coach Tite has chosen to take to Russia.
There is no place, however, for Chelsea defender David Luiz, who fell out of favour under Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge this season.
Tite took the unusual step of naming 15 players guaranteed a place in his squad in an interview back in February. They included Firmino, Willian, Jesus and Fernandinho.
The only one of those 15 not in Monday’s final squad was Dani Alves, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a knee ligament injury.
Brazil will be looking to win the World Cup for a record sixth time in Russia.
They are in a group with Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
Brazil World Cup squad:
Alisson (Roma), Cassio (Corinthians), Ederson (Manchester City); Danilo (Manchester City), Geromel (Gremio), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris St Germain), Miranda (Inter Milan), Fagner (Corinthians), Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain); Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Paulinho (Barcelona), Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Willian (Chelsea); Douglas Costa (Juventus), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (Paris St Germain), Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk).