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Pellegrini ponders Hart of the goalkeeping matter

Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against West Ham United at the Boleyn Gr
Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini reacts during their English Premier League soccer match against West Ham United at the Boleyn Gr

(Reuters) - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has yet to decide whether beleaguered goalkeeper Joe Hart or understudy Costel Pantilimon will play in Saturday's Premier League clash with Norwich City.

England keeper Hart has come under increasing pressure for a series of costly errors, the latest being a mix-up with defender Matija Nastasic that allowed Fernando Torres to score Chelsea's winner in a 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

As usual Hart was rested for City's extra-time League Cup win over Newcastle United on Wednesday, and Chilean Pellegrini said no decision had been made on who would be in goal for the home match against strugglers Norwich.

"I think that we will talk tomorrow," Pellegrini told the club's website (www.mcfc.co.uk).

"One goalkeeper can play but the other will have our full support. We will think about it."

Romanian Pantilimon, who is yet to appear in the Premier League, gave a largely assured performance against Newcastle, making decent saves from Shola Ameobi in the first half and Papiss Cisse during extra time, and was praised by Pellegrini for keeping his second clean sheet of the season.

"Pantilimon has always had my trust and that of the team," Pellegrini said.

"He is a good player, that's why he is here. He may not have played too much because Joe Hart plays last year and this year but I trust him to play.

"I think for him and the team to keep a clean sheet today was important.

"He is a very good goalkeeper and he normally plays in the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup.

"This was a very important match for him."

Hart has faced mounting criticism for a number of mistakes this year at club and international level, with England manager Roy Hodgson and Pellegrini both publicly backing the 26-year-old in the past month, although the latter was less vocal after the Chelsea defeat, City's third in the league.

(Writing by Josh Reich; Editing by John O'Brien)

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