Manchester City ready to hand Hart starting role next season

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The Independent Online

Manchester City's Joe Hart will get the chance to oust Shay Given and make the club's goalkeeper's jersey his own, with a run of games in the side at the start of next season as the Irishman recovers from shoulder surgery.

Given will be out for four months which provides Hart with possibly four games and the same kind of opportunity Ben Foster had at Old Trafford last season, when Edwin van der Sar missed the beginning of the campaign. Roberto Mancini has already made it clear he sees Hart as an integral part of his plans and the departure of Mark Hughes – who brought Given in – may give the 23-year-old belief that he can make a fresh start having become disillusioned by his prospects before leaving for a year's loan at Birmingham last summer.

Sunderland indicated yesterday that the arrival of Marton Fulop as the emergency back-up for Given, who suffered a dislocated elbow at Arsenal, was not a foregone conclusion when their man arrived in Manchester on Tuesday night. "Contrary to reports elsewhere, the deal was not completed until this afternoon when final agreement was reached between the parties," a Sunderland spokesman said.

Mancini has been unwilling for the 26-year-old Hungarian goalkeeper to give interviews, given that controversy accompanying the goalkeeping crisis has placed him under such a fierce – and from Mancini's perspective unwelcome – spotlight. Fulop told the club's website: "I got a call yesterday from Manchester City and I was more than happy to help. It came out of the blue but I'm more than happy to come here and show I can help them. I came here to do a job and hoping I can do that."

Fulop, who will play in Saturday's home game with Aston Villa, last appeared at Eastlands for Sunderland in December on the day that Hughes was sacked after City's 4-3 win.

The Sunderland manager Steve Bruce, who is believed to have fallen out with Fulop after his side's 7-2 defeat at Chelsea in January, said: "It's a wonderful opportunity for Marton because he has found his way to the first team restricted by the form of Craig Gordon.

"When I first came in, there were two of them competing for the number one shirt. I plumped for Craig, and justifiably so given his performances, which have cemented him as the number one. When that happens, you have to show respect to Marton by allowing him to play first team football, which is what he will get at City."

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