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Wednesday 15 August 2018

Joe aiming to keep his Hart rate up

Manuel Pellegrini and Joe Hart during a press conference at the Etihad Stadium
Manuel Pellegrini and Joe Hart during a press conference at the Etihad Stadium

Joe Hart has admitted he finds it "hard to see the positives" of being rested and said he is relishing the challenge of fighting for his place.

The England goalkeeper was replaced by summer signing Willy Caballero for Manchester City's 4-2 win at Hull at the weekend, but is set to be recalled for the visit of Roma in the Champions League group stage match tonight.

Hart said last week he was in the dark over a new contract with City - his current deal has just under two years left to run - but insists he wants to stay at the club.

The 27-year-old was dropped last season after a run of errors, but reclaimed his place, and conceded he found it difficult to see any positives from being rested.

Hart said: "It is hard for me to see it that way. I am sure when I retire from football I will see them, but right now I am not going to see them.

"Of course I want to play every game, that is my nature. I am not the manager, just a player. I live by the decisions of the manager.

"We have always had good goalkeepers, David James, [Andreas] Isaksson, Kasper [Schmeichel], [Costel] Pantilimon, it has always been a fight for me to keep my place and that will continue, but I have always had high standards that I will keep to, whether there is one goalkeeper or 20. I love the challenge."

The match at the Etihad will see Hart come up against his former England team-mate Ashley Cole, who moved from Chelsea to Italy in the summer. Micah Richards, another City and England team-mate has also moved to Serie A with Fiorentina, but Hart said he had no urge to leave.

"I have got a lot of respect for the boys who have done, Micah being closest to home for me," said Hart. "He seems to be loving it out there, but right now I am happy with what is going on at this club. We are fighting on all fronts. While I am welcome here, I am more than happy to stay here and see where that takes me."

IMPORTANT

Neither Hart nor Manuel Pellegrini would be drawn on his contract situation, however, with the City manager stating: "Me and Joe know what happens with that issue. It is important but not the most important thing in this moment."

City's opponents Roma have begun the season by winning all five of their matches in Serie A and thrashing Champions League group rivals CSKA Moscow 5-1. That heaps the pressure on City, after Pellegrini's side conceded a last-minute winner to Bayern Munich in their opening European match.

Hart added: "It is obviously a big game after a disappointing start in Munich. We are aware it is the Champions League and not the knock-out phase straight away. We have to build on it especially at home and we are going in trying to win the game.

"They [Roma] have been doing very well. We have focused a lot more on them since drawn in our group, they got a great result in matchday one. Every game is tough in Champions League, but we are up for it and more than capable of winning."

Late goals have proved costly for City in Europe, with Bayern, Barcelona last season and Real Madrid in 2012 all scoring late on to secure victories. Hart, however, says City can cope with the "big boys" of European football.

He said: "Of course, those have cost us the games in some big games, but also shown that we are definitely up there and can play with the big boys and we just need to finish the game off.

"It is pretty much standard for the Champions League. We have always had tough groups in our brief Champions League history. They are big nights. We all understand you have to do well at home."

Pellegrini pointed out that City lost their opening group match last season, also against Bayern, but went on to win all the other five and qualify from the group.

He said: "It is normal pressure. Remember last year we start here against Bayern at home and we lost at home. Maybe that is more pressure. But we lost the first game and won the other five games."

Stefan Jovetic is back in the City squad after recovering from a hamstring injury but Fernando and Samir Nasri miss out.

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