Soccer-Pellegrini puts trust in Hart but no guarantee of place


MANCHESTER, England, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Joe Hart has Manchester City's trust but he must improve his performances, manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Friday as he fell short of promising his under-fire keeper a starting spot against Everton.

The England international endured an evening to forget on Wednesday after failing to keep out reasonably stoppable shots from Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben in a 3-1 defeat by holders Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Although national team manager Roy Hodgson has been quick to say Hart remains his number one keeper for England's World Cup qualifiers this month, Pellegrini did not go that far.

"I will decide tomorrow if I start him but I don't tell you now that Joe will play tomorrow because the players don't know yet," the Chilean told a news conference on the eve of Saturday's Premier League match at home to Everton.

"Of course Joe knows he must improve the way he is playing but of course he has our trust."

Unlike his predecessor Roberto Mancini, Pellegrini has been careful not to single out under-performers for public dressing downs, preferring the team to shoulder collective blame.

"After every game I always speak with all the players, not only with Joe Hart, with all the players. We analyse what we did in the match and the reason why we lost the game and the reason also when we win," Pellegrini said.

"Of course he (Hart) feels that he didn't do very well but I think he continues with the task of the team, with our trust."

Asked if had thought about giving Hart a break from first-team action, Pellegrini replied: "I am always contemplating different things, tomorrow I will decide."


Hart played his way into becoming City's first-choice keeper three seasons ago after putting in some superb performances that allowed him to oust experienced Shay Given from the role.

The 26-year-old's place has barely been questioned since and pundits have suggested a lack of serious competition for the job between the posts has led to him taking his eye off the ball - perhaps literally at times.

Pellegrini, however, said Hart's deputy Costel Pantilimon, yet to make his Premier League debut since being signed by City two years ago, was pushing him enough.

"I think Costel Pantilimon is a very good goalkeeper also," the manager said. "He has all the rights to play. I know he is working hard and I'm absolutely sure that tomorrow or in another game Pantilimon must play, he will do very well."

City host Everton in Saturday's early game (1145), hoping to improve on a poor record against a team who are the league's only unbeaten side this season.

Everton have won nine of their last 12 encounters with City and have scored in six of their last seven trips to the blue side of Manchester.

Roberto Martinez's side are fourth in the table with 12 points from six games and City are seventh, two points behind.

(Reporting by Sonia Oxley; Editing by)

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