Monday 22 January 2018

Joe Hart dropped for Norwich clash

Joe Hart did not feature in the Capital One Cup fourth-round tie at Newcastle in midweek
Joe Hart did not feature in the Capital One Cup fourth-round tie at Newcastle in midweek

John Percy

Joe Hart has been dropped from the Manchester City team to face Norwich City tomorrow, according to reports.

The England goalkeeper has been agonising over his place in Manuel Pelligrini's starting team since conceding Chelsea's winning goal at Stamford Bridge last week after a mix-up with defender Matija Nastajic.

It is understood that Hart has today been told he will be left out of the team to face Norwich in favour of Costel Pantilimon.

Pantilimon strengthened his claim with a sound performance in City's Capital One Cup victory at Newcastle United on Wednesday.

Pelligrini refused to say which goalkeeper he planned to pick at a press conference earlier today.

 He said: "Tomorrow you will know. It is a decision I have to take every week with the 22 players."

Hart's omission follows a series of errors over the past year, although both City - and England manager Roy Hodgson - had up this point stuck by the player, who has been seen as comfortably the leading English goalkeeper currently playing.

Hodgson will be concerned that Hart is not excluded from City's starting team for an extended part of a season which will be followed by the World Cup Finals in Brazil.

Pelligrini said at the press conference he intended to be "careful" not to damage Hart's confidence, adding: "I am very careful with all the players, not only Joe."

Asked how Hart had reacted to missing the Newcastle game, Pelligrini said: "You must ask Joe. I can’t answer for him how disappointed [he was]. All of you and the players and me saw what happened but he is a football player and every week he is in the same pressure."

Pantilimon, the 6ft 8in Romanian, believes he has earned his chance to start league games for City and might even have considered submitting a transfer request in January had he not been picked against Norwich.

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