Joe Hart set for Man City chop after Pantilimon clean sheet
Pellegrini won't to say who will play against Norwich, but Romanian stand-in looks favourite
MANCHESTER CITY reserve goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon kept up the pressure on England's number one, Joe Hart, by keeping a clean sheet as City beat Newcastle 2-0 in the Capital One Cup.
And after the game, City boss Manuel Pellegrini, refused to say whether or not the error-prone Hart would get his place back for the Premier League clash with Norwich this weekend.
The giant Romanian, who usually plays in the domestic cup competitions, made two good saves in the tie and Pellegrini said he had "done well", prompting speculation that he would keep his place.
It was City's first clean sheet for seven games, notes the BBC, which adds: "The 26-year-old did his cause no harm with a fine stop to deny Shola Ameobi in the first half and another to thwart Papiss Cisse in extra time."
The City boss was certainly left with food for thought. "Pellegrini was persistently evasive when asked whether Hart would play against the Canaries and claimed that he was still to decide whether the England international's poor form meant he needed to be taken out of the firing line," says the Daily Telegraph.
However, Luke Edwards, who was on 'Pantilimon-watch' for the Telegraph, said the 6ft 8in stand-in keeper had done what was required, despite a couple of nervy moments.
Pantilimon's efforts were enough "to warrant keeping him in the starting line-up against Norwich if [Pellegrini] really does want to punish Hart's poor form," he says.
However, his stay between the sticks is unlikely to be permanent. "Hart remains the better goalkeeper, albeit one who is struggling for form and with it confidence," claims Edwards. But dropping Hart in the short term "would make the point that Pellegrini does not believe anyone is guaranteed a starting place, and it will enable Hart to take a breather, refocus and come again after a few weeks away from the media glare". ·