Joe Hart has been dropped for Manchester City’s Premier League clash with Norwich tomorrow after his latest blunder against Chelsea cost them a share of the points last weekend.
Back-up 'keeper Costel Pantilimon started the Capital One Cup victory over Newcastle United on Wednesday night, and reports suggest he will keep his place against the Canaries.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to confirm whether or not Hart would be dropped for the weekend’s clash, but it is understood that he has already been informed that his rival for the starting berth has been favoured instead of him.
Pellegrini said: "Tomorrow you will know. It is a decision I have to take every week with the 22 players."
The England No 1’s absence comes after a string of errors has cost City in recent weeks, culminating in the mix-up between defender Matija Nastasic and Hart last Sunday which allowed Fernando Torres to score the winner for Chelsea after the ball looped over Hart’s head.
England boss Roy Hodgson will be concerned with Hart’s form, although he has so far failed to slip up while wearing the Three Lions shirt, and he stuck with the 26-year-old for the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Montenegro and Poland last month which ensured their progression to next month’s tournament in Brazil.
Pellegrini admitted that should he decide to drop Hart from his side, he would have to be “careful” not to dent his confidence, which already appears to be at a huge low.
"I am very careful with all the players, not only Joe,” the Chilean expressed. When asked whether Hart was disappointed about missing the midweek win, Pellegrini replied: "You must ask Joe. I can’t answer for him how disappointed [he was]. All of you and the players and me saw what happened but he is a football player and every week he is in the same pressure."
Following last week’s defeat, City sit seventh in the Premier League table, just two points and one position above rivals Manchester United who have showed signs of a return to form having battled back to victories over Sunderland and Stoke in recent weeks.