Sunderland v Manchester City: Joe Hart stays on sidelines despite England boost

Pantilimon is expected to start in goal for trip to face Sunderland

He may have been lifted to hear England manager Roy Hodgson publicly back him this week, but any hopes that Joe Hart could be given the same kind of support from his club manager were dashed yesterday as Manuel Pellegrini confirmed there is no time-frame set for his return to the Manchester City side.

The Romanian Costel Pantilimon is expected to start in goal for tomorrow’s trip to face Sunderland as City look to pick up only their second away win of the season in the Premier League having in midweek secured their qualification for the Champions League knockout stages.

Hart was named in Hodgson’s England squad to face Chile and Germany this month and is expected to start at least one of those, despite having been dropped for City’s past two matches. Pellegrini welcomed his inclusion in the national side but offered no guarantees Hart will win his place back soon.  

“I am happy, absolutely – he deserves to be in the squad. He has been the No 1 English goalkeeper for the whole of qualifying for the World Cup. I think he must be there,” said the Chilean.

“I am thinking about what is the best for the team at this moment. At this moment, I repeat, I have trust in Pantilimon. But we will continue trusting in Joe and will see when he comes back.”

Sergio Aguero was named as the Premier League’s Player of the Month yesterday having scored 11 goals in his last eight appearances for City. Yet the news that playmaker David Silva could be sidelined for up to four weeks with a calf injury is likely to increase the pressure on the burgeoning partnership between Aguero and Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo, with Stevan Jovetic also sidelined.

Captain Vincent Kompany is closing in on a return having missed City’s last six games and Pellegrini believes he could be back for the home game against Tottenham Hotspur on 24 November.

“Kompany had five weeks – that was the original prognosis for him. He is in his third week so he has two weeks more,” said Pellegrini.

“We hope if he continues the same way he will not have any problems.”

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