Sunderland v Man City
Manuel Pellegrini believes England boss Roy Hodgson is right to back Joe Hart — but will not confirm when he might return for Manchester City.
England goalkeeper Hart has lost his place in the City side after a series of costly errors, sitting out their most recent Premier League and Champions League games.
That has raised further questions over his position in the national side but Hodgson has made clear Hart remains his number one.
Pellegrini said: “I am happy, absolutely — he deserves to be in the squad.
“He has been the number one English goalkeeper for the whole of qualifying for the World Cup. I think he must be there.”
Hart, however, is likely to remain on the bench as City travel to Sunderland tomorrow.
Back-up keeper Costel Pantilimon came in for last week’s Capital One Cup tie at Newcastle and remained in place for the 7-0 thrashing of Norwich and 5-2 Champions League defeat of CSKA Moscow.
Pellegrini said: “I am thinking about what is the best for the team at this moment.
“At this moment, I repeat, I have trust in Pantilimon.
“But we will continue trusting in Joe and will see when he comes back.”
City’s 3-1 victory over CSKA Moscow in midweek secured progress in the Champions League but the downside to the victory was the loss of playmaker David Silva with a calf injury.
The Spain international left the action after 66 minutes and could now be out for up to a month.
Silva joins influential captain Vincent Kompany on the sidelines, although Pellegrini is hopeful he will return after the international break to face Tottenham on November 24.
Pellegrini now wants his team to make sure they replicate some of their brilliant football against Norwich and CSKA — which all took place at the Etihad Stadium — away from home, where City have collected just four points from five games.
Pellegrini said: “We cannot continue losing points playing away. It is very important for us.
“We are six points behind Arsenal and on Sunday Arsenal play Manchester United, a difficult game for both of them. It is the moment for us to recover points.”
City’s other weakness this term has been in defence, particularly in the absence of Kompany, but Pellegrini believes that is being rectified.
He said: “We are an attacking team but to be an attacking team it is very important to know how to defend.
“The team has improved a lot defending — we are holding ball, recovering the ball.
“Maybe we conceded one or two goals, especially playing away, that meant we lost points but I think the team is improving in all senses.”
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet says his side must be clever in possession. “If we give the ball to them, we are not going to get it back, for sure, so we need to be brave.
“We are not going to take silly risks. In plenty of situations where we were not able to pass the ball or keep it, we are going to try to keep it a little bit better.”
Poyet will be without suspended duo Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena, who were both sent off in the 1-0 defeat at Hull last Saturday, but Irish keeper Keiren Westwood has recovered from a blow to the head and is ready to compete with Vito Mannone once again.
Defender Wes Brown too is vying for a place.
- Poyet has dropped his legal case against Championship side Brighton, the League Managers Association confirmed last night.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved