Manchester City v Sunderland: Joe Hart prepared to sit out League Cup final is Manuel Pellegrini sticks with Costel Pantilimon
Hart has regained his position as first choice goalkeeper but Pellegrini has chosen to play Pantilimon in the domestic cups so far this season
Saturday 01 March 2014
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart accepts he may have to sit out the Capital One Cup final.
But the England international insists he will be "man enough" to take it if Costel Pantilimon is preferred for Sunday's Wembley showpiece against Sunderland.
Hart lost his place to Pantilimon for a spell last November and December after a series of high-profile errors.
But since Hart re-established himself as number one towards the end of 2013, manager Manuel Pellegrini has reverted to his default practice of playing second-choice Pantilimon in domestic cup ties.
That means Hart could be left on the bench at Wembley, although Pellegrini has not yet made his selection public.
Hart told BBC's Football Focus: "I work hard every day to win, I work hard with every intention of winning and I understand it doesn't always go my way.
"I have got to be man enough to take that. I have got to be responsible for what goes on, for how I react and for how I conduct myself."
Pellegrini was asked which goalkeeper might start when he held his pre-match press conference in Manchester on Friday, but would not be drawn.
"I have already made my decision but unfortunately you cannot know it until Sunday," Pellegrini told reporters on day when he was also hit with a touchline ban by UEFA.
Pantilimon was also guarded when asked about his prospects of playing.
The Romanian said: "Only the manager can say this. I am like all the players, we are ready for this game."
Pellegrini did confirm that top scorer Sergio Aguero was fit again after five games out with a hamstring injury but was unsure whether the 26-goal forward would be ready to start.
Pellegrini said: "Of course it is very important for the team to have Sergio again with us because he is a very important player.
"We must see if he is 100 per cent to play the whole match."
Defender Matija Nastasic and striker Stevan Jovetic are the only players ruled out due to knee and hamstring injuries respectively.
Pellegrini will have to watch City's next two European matches from the stands - including the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Barcelona - for recent critical comments about referee Jonas Eriksson.
Pellegrini launched an astonishing attack on Eriksson and appeared to question his integrity after City were beaten 2-0 in the first leg by Barca at the Etihad Stadium last week.
The 60-year-old said the official was "not impartial", suggested he was trying to make amends for injustices against Barcelona in a previous game and questioned why an official from Sweden was appointed.
He did apologise but that did not spare him punishment as UEFA found him guilty of a breach of disciplinary regulations. A further one-match ban was suspended for two years.
A statement from the European governing body pointed out that Pellegrini "may not enter the dressing room, tunnel or technical area before or during the match; and he may not communicate directly or indirectly with his players and/or technical staff" during the ban.
He does have the right to appeal but City have not yet commented.
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