Thursday 18 January 2018

Given back in City frame as costly gaffes give Mancini Hart concerns

Mark Ogden

Roberto Mancini may rest Joe Hart for Manchester City's FA Cup third-round replay against Leicester tonight after voicing concerns over the England goalkeeper's concentration levels.

Shay Given, who has made just four senior appearances for City this season, is on standby to face Sven-Goran Eriksson's team at Eastlands, following Mancini's suggestion that the game would not be taking place "without Joe's mistake" in the 2-2 draw at the Walkers Stadium.

Hart's failure to hold Paul Gallagher's shot in the initial tie enabled Leicester captain Andy King to score a late equaliser for the Championship team nine days ago.

And the 23-year-old's unconvincing performance during Saturday's 4-3 victory over Wolves, when he appeared to misjudge a number of crosses and high balls into the penalty area, has raised the first doubts over his form.

Hart dislodged Republic of Ireland 'keeper Given from the first team at City after returning to the club last summer following a hugely impressive season-long loan at Birmingham.


But with Mancini set to make a number of changes to freshen up his team tonight, the City manager admits that Hart must overcome the first signs of frailty in his game.

"Joe is a young player and sometimes he can make some mistakes," Mancini said. "But many times this season, he has saved the team. For a young goalkeeper is it important to always have full concentration, but Joe sometimes loses his concentration.

"He is always very assured but sometimes this is not the case. It is important to always have concentration, always."

Hart has become England's first-choice goalkeeper, edging ahead of Birmingham's Ben Foster and West Ham's Robert Green.

All three have committed high-profile blunders in recent weeks, but Mancini believes that Hart can quickly regain his best form if he continues to work on his game.

Although Given's desire for first-team football has opened up the possibility of the former Newcastle 'keeper leaving Eastlands this month, it is understood that the prospects of Mancini sanctioning his exit are slim because of the difficulty of finding a replacement.

The threat of Given becoming Cup-tied by facing Leicester, and therefore diminishing his value, could influence Mancini's selection.

Mancini is set to restore James Milner and David Silva to the starting XI, while Jo is expected to replace Edin Dzeko, who is ineligible after being registered too late to play in the initial tie after his arrival from Wolfsburg. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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