Monday 22 December 2014

Pellegrini to rule on Hart

Published 01/11/2013 | 07:06

Joe Hart, pictured, was deemed to be at fault for Fernando Torres' winning goal for Chelsea last weekend
Joe Hart, pictured, was deemed to be at fault for Fernando Torres' winning goal for Chelsea last weekend

Manuel Pellegrini has a difficult decision on his hands once again as he weighs up whether to stick with Joe Hart for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Norwich.

The England goalkeeper was deemed to be at fault for Fernando Torres' winning goal as Chelsea beat Manchester City last weekend, the latest in a string of errors.

Pellegrini now finds himself in the same position as four weeks ago, when mistakes from Hart against Bayern Munich prompted the City manager to consider the position ahead of their league game against Everton.

On that occasion he opted to keep faith with Hart, but said afterwards it had been a very difficult decision.

Romanian Costel Pantilimon is the man waiting in the wings, and he did his cause no harm by keeping a clean sheet over 120 minutes in the Capital One Cup victory against Newcastle on Wednesday.

Pellegrini refused to speculate on who he might pick for Saturday, but he was keen to talk up the performance of Pantilimon.

The Chilean said: "(Pantilimon) is a good player and is not playing too much because Joe Hart played this year and last year, but I trust him and for him and for the whole team to keep a clean sheet after six games is very important.''

Pellegrini will face the media again later on Friday and one topic is guaranteed to be at the top of the agenda.

The concern for Pellegrini, and something he highlighted after the Everton game, is that dropping Hart now would further damage his confidence.

The City boss talked then about wanting to show Hart he had the trust of the club, and the dilemma will be the same this time.

Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel thinks Pellegrini will be reluctant to drop Hart because of the negative effect it could have.

Friedel helped Tottenham reach the League Cup quarter-finals with a penalty shoot-out victory over Hull, and he told talkSPORT: "All goalkeepers go through ups and down.

"Goalkeeping is very much a confidence position. Joe has never struck me as a person who lacks in the confidence department.

"You just never know with these things. That's why it's not as easy as, 'Right, we're going to drop Joe Hart', because you don't want to lose the best Joe Hart, because the best Joe Hart is England's number one."

Pellegrini also has injury problems to worry about, with forward Stevan Jovetic suffering a calf injury early on against Newcastle.

The Montenegrin, who joined City from Fiorentina in the summer, has managed only five appearances for the club so far.

Meanwhile, captain Vincent Kompany has not played since the victory over Everton because of a thigh problem.

Press Association

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