Hart says sorry for Rovers' 'freaky' goal

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The Independent Football

The early season form of Joe Hart has been a bright spot for club and country this season, but two recent wobbles have demonstrated that the Manchester City keeper remains, at the age of 24, a work in progress.

Hart yesterday apologised for his error on Saturday that gifted Blackburn the opening goal at Eastlands and helped contribute further to City's stuttering opening to their much-heralded league campaign.

Hart was outstanding in City's opening game at Tottenham and also for England against Bulgaria, but against Switzerland there was an unconvincing 10-minute spell and against Blackburn he presented Nikola Kalinic with a simple finish after a mix up with Kolo Touré. "I got there and Kolo was about to head it. He heard me coming and left it," said Hart. "It was me getting in the way. I hold my hands up. I am sorry for that."

After taking one point from two Premier League games, City have a chance to rediscover some form on Thursday as they play their first Europa League group game against Red Bull Salzburg. Roberto Mancini may well hand Shay Given a start in goal in Austria, with Hart back in goal for league duty at Wigan on Sunday. The consistent Given was first choice last season and Hart will be only too aware of the need to maintain standards.

"Defensively we feel as though we have made a decent start to the season," said Hart. "We have still conceded only one goal from open play and that was a pretty freaky one."

City's defence could soon be strengthened with the return of Wayne Bridge, who is in contention to play against Salzburg having recovered from a broken foot he suffered in pre-season.