• Premier League

Mancini: I have 100% trust in Joe Hart

ESPN staff
February 22, 2013
Joe Hart gifted Southampton a goal in Manchester City's 3-1 defeat at St Mary's © Getty Images

Roberto Mancini says he has complete confidence in Joe Hart as he prepares to bring the England goalkeeper back for the first time since his disastrous blunder at Southampton.

Hart spilled a Rickie Lambert shot at the feet of Steven Davis for Saints' second goal in their 3-1 win over Manchester City on February 9 and then sat out the FA Cup win over Leeds when he was rested and Costel Pantilimon played.

But he is set to return against Chelsea on Sunday, while captain Vincent Kompany and midfielder Gareth Barry both face fitness tests, with Mancini pointing out he promoted Hart above former first-choice keeper Shay Given in 2010.

"I love Joe. Two years ago when no one wanted him in goal instead of Shay I put him in because I trusted him and was sure he was a good goalkeeper," Mancini said. "Sometimes it's difficult for a goalkeeper, he can do a mistake and if they do they can let in a goal but we trust Joe 100%."

Kompany has been missing since injuring his calf in the FA Cup fourth-round win over Stoke on January 26 and Mancini admitted the defender has suffered a setback in his bid to return to fitness.

"It's taking longer than we thought. The calf is a strong injury because it's hard to recover from this. Sometimes you think it's OK. Instead, it is not."

Midfielder Barry has an ankle problem, which forced him to miss the 4-0 victory over Leeds, and Mancini said: "I don't think he will be fit. We will decide after training."

Sir Alex Ferguson had cast doubts on City's title prospects, saying Mancini's men would drop points in the title run-in but the Italian feels his side are capable of reeling off 12 successive victories.

"This is possible. Could be, why not?" he said. "It is difficult to win 12 games in a row in the Premier League but we try."

City are only four points ahead of Chelsea but, if Manchester United beat QPR on Saturday, they will kick off 15 points behind the league leaders. However, Mancini said he is not concentrating on avoiding third place.

"Our target is to battle to win the Premier League, not for second place," he added.

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