Pellegrini confirms Hart will start against Liverpool

Sunday 22 Dec 2013
Hart made his first league appearance in two months
Joe Hart has been assured by Manuel Pellegrini that he will retain his starting berth for the Boxing Day clash against Liverpool. 

Hart made a winning return to the Manchester City side during their 4-2 victory at Fulham on Saturday, and his manager was full of praise for the England goalkeeper. 

He said: "We don't know what will happen in the future, today, what Joe did I think he did it well. 

"We'll see what will happen, every match we can play with different 11 starters, but at the moment Joe will continue to play in the next game. "At the moment he deserved to play today and he also deserves to continue." 

The victory at Craven Cottage was Hart's first league start in almost two months but the England goalkeeper was helpless to stop Vincent Kompany's looping own goal drop into the net as Fulham clambered from 2-0 to draw level in the second half, before City replied with late goals from Jesus Navas and James Milner to take the win. 

Joe Hart fact file

  • Born: 19 April 1987
  • Place: Shrewsbury, Shropshire
  • Previous clubs: Shrewsbury Town, Tranmere Rovers (loan), Blackpool (loan), Birmingham City (loan)
  • Senior debut: 20 April 2004 (Shrewsbury v Gravesend & Northfleet)
  • England debut: 1 June 2008 (vs Trinidad and Tobago)


However, despite letting in two goals, Pellegrini said he had seen enough to confirm Hart will face Liverpool. 

"When I put Pantilimon in the starting eleven I spoke with Joe and he understood that he was not in a good moment," he added. 

"Maybe seven games after, one month after, he's working very hard, and I thought that he deserved another opportunity, and I think he did it well. 

"It was a tough decision (to change the goalkeeper) because we were winning. I think Pantilimon was doing well also but I thought that this game was better for Joe to play. "I think that we have a squad, and I have to make the decision every week who will play, not only Joe Hart." 

City had appeared comfortable in the early exchange in south-west London, and eased into a 2-0 lead after half-time thanks to Yaya Toure's free-kick and a goal at the right end for Kompany. 

However, things changed after the break as the strong winds which had been behind City's backs in the first half began howling in their faces. "It was a really difficult match. The pitch wasn't good and it was very windy," Pellegrini added. 

"Fulham are a tough team at home and they defend very well. "We had at least three clear chances to score more goals and normally when you miss chances the other team will score." 

Hart and City now head in to a packed festive schedule. 

As well as the visit of Liverpool on Boxing Day, the Citizens also welcome Crystal Palace two days later, before travelling to south Wales to take on Swansea on New Year's Day.

By FA Staff