City approach Blues over Hart return

Manchester City have approached Birmingham about the possibility of recalling goalkeeper Joe Hart from his loan spell at St Andrew’s.

Manchester City have approached Birmingham about the possibility of recalling goalkeeper Joe Hart from his loan spell at St Andrew’s.

Hart made the move from Eastlands to the Blues on a season-long loan which is due to expire in just over two weeks’ time.

But Roberto Mancini is keen to bring Hart back for the final two games of the campaign because of an injury crisis.

Number one Shay Given, Stuart Taylor (knee) and David Gonzalez (groin) are currently sidelined to leave the Champions League-chasing club with only one option between the posts, Gunnar Nielsen.

Nielsen on Sunday became the first Faroe Islander to play in the Barclays Premier League when he replaced Given after the Republic of Ireland stopper suffered a dislocated shoulder at Arsenal.

City and Birmingham have been involved in discussions over Hart today but any final decision would have to be ratified by the Premier League.

City’s Champions League rivals Tottenham and Aston Villa are also understood to be keeping tabs on the situation.

Hart has been in superb form for Birmingham after making the temporary switch in his desire to play regular first-team football.

His performances this season have impressed England boss Fabio Capello and put him in strong contention for a World Cup spot in South Africa this summer.

Given, whose arrival at Eastlands in January 2009 led to Hart losing his place, will be out for around three to four months after last weekend’s injury.

Nielsen came on for the final 17 minutes in the 0-0 draw at the Emirates Stadium and the 23-year-old’s national team manager has backed him to rise to the challenge at City even if the club are given permission to draft in another goalkeeper – with Hart or Sunderland’s Marton Fulop, who could sign on loan, possibilities.

Faroe Islands manager Brian Kerr, the former Republic of Ireland boss, expects Nielsen to perform if he faces Aston Villa on Saturday.

Kerr told the BBC: “I believe he will grasp the chance if he is given it.

“He has prepared a long time for this and I’m confident that he would handle the situation well. It is a big opportunity for him.

“He is big, confident and competent and because of his physical attributes he has a bit of a presence about him.

“If he gets to play, his mental attitude and strength will be a real attribute that will come across on the field.”

Meanwhile, City youngster Alex Nimely has become the latest academy graduate to pledge his future to the club, signing a new four-year contract today.

The 19-year-old Liberia-born striker follows in the footsteps of Dedryck Boyata and James Poole in agreeing new terms.

“It’s a great day for me and my family,” Nimely, an England Under-20 international, told the club’s official website, www.mcfc.co.uk.

Nimely has been handed his first senior opportunities under Mancini, making his debut in the 6-1 thrashing of Burnley and subsequently making the bench several times.

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