x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Hart dropped to bench by Manchester City

The beleaguered keeper has been replaced by manager Manuel Pellegrini with Costel Pantilimon in the starting XI.

Joe Hart, left, was dropped in favour of Costel Pantilimon, right, on Saturday. Phil Noble / Reuters
Joe Hart, left, was dropped in favour of Costel Pantilimon, right, on Saturday. Phil Noble / Reuters

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart was dropped to the bench for his side’s Premier League home game with Norwich City on Saturday following a series of high-profile blunders.

The 26-year-old England goalkeeper has made a succession of errors in recent months, culminating in a rash charge from his line that gifted Fernando Torres a last-minute winner in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over City last weekend.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini has been reluctant to address Hart’s form directly with the media, but he made his feelings apparent by retaining second-choice goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon in his starting XI.

The Romanian had deputised for Hart in Wednesday’s 2-0 League Cup victory away to Arsenal, but would ordinarily have been expected to cede his place to Hart for Saturday’s fixture.

“I thought about this the whole week,” said Pellegrini prior to the game.

“It was not easy to take this decision. Last time I was in doubt before the internationals, but I thought at that moment it was important to trust in Joe Hart because the England team also needed him. At this moment we need a change, Joe needs a rest and it will be useful for him.

“We are all behind him and try to recover him as soon as we can. I think Joe is a very important player. He is a great goalkeeper, but everyone can have a bad moment in their career. He has it at this moment and I am sure he will improve with a bit of a rest.”