Pep Guardiola warns Joe Hart 'his time is now' to prove his qualities on eve of new season
Joe Hart is facing a battle to secure his position as first-choice goalkeeper at Manchester City after being told by Pep Guardiola he cannot waste time proving he is as comfortable with the ball at his feet as in his hands.
Hart, who goes into the campaign with doubts over his England position following an unconvincing Euro 2016, is set to face Sunderland in City’s Premier League opener at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday evening.
But despite admitting he sees ‘quality’ in Hart, City manager Guardiola refused to confirm that the 29-year-old will retain his place in the team beyond the August 31 transfer deadline.
And with Guardiola still interested in signing Barcelona’s German goalkeeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen, he has made it clear to Hart that he must show his ability to play with his feet in order to stay in the team.
"Joe is comfortable (with his feet),” Guardiola said. “He has quality and he can do that -- with time.
“I'm not saying he's not able to do it. Maybe there are other goalkeepers with more quality of that, but Joe, with training, can do it. With time.
“But his time is now. It's not about what happens in six months, seven months.
"Joe is a goalkeeper and, with a goalkeeper, I talk to him 'here is the ball at your feet' and about what the has to do, rather than what he has to do with his hands. We have had a chat about that.”
Argentine Willy Cabellero remains at City number two ‘keeper, but Guardiola is determined to recruit a more convincing goalkeeper to challenge Hart.
And the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach admits that he will continue to assess his players and his squad until the transfer deadline.
“August 31 is the last day,” Guardiola said. “We are going to see at that time which players will stay, which players are going to be loaned, which are going to be sold, which players are coming.
“We are going to see in these 3 weeks, how is the game, how is the team, how is the smell. With Txiki (Begiristain), with the chairman, we are going to talk about that. We are going to decide.
“I’m so happy about his (Hart’s) qualities, his behaviour, what he means to this club. But we are going to decide inside the doors (what his future will be). Now, he is a player of us.”
Guardiola, meanwhile, has confirmed that club captain Vincent Kompany has returned to training following summer groin surgery.
But with the Belgian defender suffering a catalogue of injuries in recent season, Guardiola concedes that the fitness problems are a concern.
"Yeah, that's why we're being patient with him,” he said. “But I think he's in a good place now."
“He has started training sessions. He has been a big player for Manchester City."
Independent News Service