Liam Ridgewell believes Joe Hart's recent performances have been key to Birmingham's rise up the Premier League table and has backed the goalkeeper for a place in the England World Cup squad.
Hart joined Blues on a season-long loan from Manchester City over the summer after finding first-team opportunities at Eastlands limited by the arrival of Shay Given.
The 22-year-old drew criticism for some of his early performances under Alex McLeish but has bounced back to form in recent weeks and will once again be in the side as Birmingham chase their sixth successive victory at Everton on Sunday.
Ridgewell said: "It was disappointing when Joe got a bit of stick because he came on loan to us and obviously he has got to settle in.
"To give someone stick so early was disappointing. I think he has proved his worth and he is a fantastic keeper.
"In two or three games recently, he has not had a lot to do but then made crucial saves.
"It's like the gaffer (Alex McLeish) said, that a good keeper is someone who hasn't done anything and then they pull off an important save.
"He has been fantastic so far. He has got a good chance of going to the World Cup.
"Harty is competing with people like Robert Green and Paul Robinson, whom he has faced in the last two games, and has got as good a chance as anyone."
Staying focused key
City were written off by many pundits as relegation candidates at the start of the season and while Ridgewell is delighted to see his side in the top half of the table, he insists no-one at St Andrews is getting carried away with a run which has brought them wins over Fulham, Wolves, Wigan, West Ham and Blackburn.
"I would not have believed we would be in the top six or seven at the start of the season, we have been fantastic in terms of our effort and desire," the defender added.
"I think we fully deserve to be where we are and we showed it against Blackburn in midweek with a battling performance. It is a good team at the moment and we've got to keep going.
"You get a couple of wins and everyone wants to keep winning and that is what confidence does for you. It is fantastic.
"But we've got to be mindful when you are going strongly and everyone is praising you. We know where we want to be. We won't get carried away.
"We want to be 17th or above, in the Premier League next season. Anything else is a bonus but first and foremost we want to stay in the league."
Ridgewell is enjoying his run in defence after making an earlier than expected return from the broken leg suffered in April.
He said: "People were talking about me being out for 10 months. It is fantastic to be back and I'm loving every minute of it - and loving every minute of winning."