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Manuel Pellegrini hints at Hart axe for league game

Attention, Fantasy Football managers.

Joe Hart: enduring a bad run of form.
Joe Hart: enduring a bad run of form.
Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

MANCHESTER CITY MANAGER Manuel Pellegrini indicated today that he may drop under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart for tomorrow’s Premier League match at home to Everton.

England international Hart has endured a difficult start to the season and come under intense criticism for mistakes for both club and country.

Mostly recently the 26-year-old was held responsible for two of the goals City conceded in their 3-1 midweek defeat by holders Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Nevertheless Hart received strong support from Roy Hodgson when the England manager included him in the squad he announced Thursday for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland.

Pellegrini, for his part, said he was considering whether to give Hart a break and hand Romania international Costel Pantilimon a chance to impress.

Pantilimon, 26, has yet to appear in the Premier League for City since his move from Politehnica Timisoara in 2011 although he has played for the club in cup competitions.

“I will decide whether Joe will start or not — I always contemplate different things,” Pellegrini told reporters. “I don’t tell you now whether Joe will start on the day of the game because the rest of the players don’t know yet.

“But Costel Pantilimon is a very good goalkeeper also. He has all the rights to play and I know he’s working hard. I’m absolutely sure if it is against Everton, or another game when Pantilimon must play, he would do well.

“Joe knows he must improve the way he is playing but of course he has our trust,” the 60-year-old Chilean added.

“He feels he didn’t do very well against Bayern but he doesn’t have any problems. He continues with the trust of the team and with our trust.”

Pellegrini insisted he did not hold Hart solely responsible for some of the errors City have made in recent games despite some high-profile blunders.

“The three goals we conceded against Bayern Munich were not only Joe Hart’s responsibility for what happened,” he said. “After the game, and after every game, I always speak with all the players, not only with Joe. We analyse what we did in that match. We look at the game, also when we win, it’s normally a debrief after every match.

“They are all different goals but at least four of the six we have conceded in our last two matches are due to a lack of concentration. That’s very important. To not only play well but have a lot concentration in matches. You must concentrate for the 90 minutes.”

‘We deserve more points’

Pellegrini said the 10 points City have collected in their opening six Premier League fixture were not a fair reflection of how well they’d played.

“The way we play, we deserve more points. But if you want to win the Premier League, you can’t just win one point out of nine playing away.

“The next two games after Everton we play away in London to West Ham and Chelsea and we must try to recover the points we lost against Stoke, Aston Villa and Cardiff.

“In another sense at home we are playing well and scoring a lot of goals and it is hard for teams to score against us. So we hope can continue to do the same at home and improve away.

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“Everton is a very difficult team and the only unbeaten team in the Premier League. They play really well. We must do well in defence and attack to beat them.”

City have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the visit of Roberto Martinez’s side although Jack Rodwell will not be fit enough to face his former club.

The 22-year-old midfielder, who joined City from Everton in August 2012, has returned to training after a muscle strain but will not be risked this weekend.

“Jack has just started working with the whole squad again,” Pellegrini, whose side are five points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal, added.

“He is fit but not in the squad for the game, but he is working as normal. Martin Demichelis is still out with a knee injury.”

© AFP 2013

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