Friday 19 January 2018

Anxious Hart facing wait over City start

JOE HART faces a nervous wait over his place in the Manchester City side after manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed he has yet to decide who to pick at the weekend.

Hart has been under fire in recent weeks after some high-profile blunders and his deputy Costel Pantilimon was on League Cup duty in last night's extra-time win over Newcastle.

While it would be wrong to read too much into the Romanian's presence in the 2-0 victory at St James' Park – he regularly features in the cup sides while Hart is rested – it was an impressive display.

Pantilimon denied Shola Ameobi in the first half and produced the standout save when preventing Papiss Cisse from converting a one-on-one in the first period of added time.

It was enough to give the debate over Hart further legs ahead of Saturday's Premier League match against Norwich.

"(Pantilimon) is a very good goalkeeper and he normally plays in the League Cup and the FA Cup," said Pellegrini.

"This was a very important match for him. But I will start to think about the game against Norwich tomorrow.



"I think we will talk tomorrow (about the team selection). One goalkeeper can play but the other will have our full support.

"(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."

Newcastle's downfall was a lack of precision in front of goal, with the Magpies enjoying the better of the play in normal time.

Both Ameobi and Cisse did put the ball in the City net, but each were judged offside when doing so.

By contrast, City strikers Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo each converted in the first period of extra-time to secure a place in the last eight of the competition.

Home boss Alan Pardew was left frustrated at not being able to deliver the St James' Park faithful a morale boost after the Tyne-Wear derby defeat last weekend.

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