Hart, 25, established himself as England's first choice under former coach Fabio Capello and has started all but two of current boss Roy Hodgson's 13 games in charge.
Jittery displays for England in their friendly defeat in Sweden in November and more recently when City came unstuck at Southampton last month led to criticism, while the emergence of Jack Butland and re-emergence of Ben Foster has reopened the debate on Hart's unequivocal hold on the jersey.
But Barnsley goalkeeper Luke Steele, who will line up opposite Hart in Saturday's quarter-final, insists the City keeper is head and shoulders above any of his rivals and that all criticism is unfounded.
"For me he's the best, he's proved he's the best," said Steele, for whom Manchester United paid £500,000 to Peterborough in 2002 when he was a teenager.
"He's come under a bit of stick this year from certain people, but there's nobody better than him, certainly not English anyway.
"Joe's still young in goalkeeping terms and he's going to make mistakes and get things wrong.
"But people don't allow for that. He's only human and they should remember that.
"There's nobody better in the country for me in that position and he's showed that time and again.
"Last year he won the Premier League title, so you can't get much better than that. He's going to be around for years to come and I've got the utmost respect for him."
- Sports & Recreation
- Fabio Capello
- Jack Butland