Pellegrini coy on Hart involvement
Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has kept his cards firmly to his chest with regard to under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart's chances of playing in Saturday's Barclays Premier League home clash with Norwich.
England number one Hart's error which led to Chelsea's winner in City's 2-1 league defeat at Stamford Bridge last Sunday was the latest in a series of high-profile blunders made by the 26-year-old for club and country.
He was replaced for Wednesday's Capital One Cup fourth-round tie at Newcastle by Romania stopper Costel Pantilimon, who has become City's regular goalkeeper for domestic cup competitions since joining them in the summer of 2011 and was fairly impressive in a 2-0 extra-time win.
If Pellegrini opts to stick with that selection for the Norwich contest, it will be Pantilimon's first Premier League appearance.
Various commentators have had their say on Hart's form and the manager must decide whether dropping him in the league will protect him from the limelight or further knock his confidence, but Pellegrini was giving little away on the matter at his pre-match press conference on Friday.
Asked if Hart would be returning to the team for the Norwich game, the Chilean said: "Tomorrow you will know the answer."
Then asked whether it was a difficult decision, he said: "It is a decision I have to take every week with 22 players."
Pellegrini would not be drawn on how Hart had reacted to the decision to drop him for the Newcastle fixture.
"You must ask Joe - I can't answer for him how disappointed he was," Pellegrini said.
"All of you and the players and me all saw what happened. But he is a football player and every week he is under the same pressure."
He added: "I am always very careful with all the players, not only Joe."
What is certain about City's team for the Norwich contest is that it will not feature Stevan Jovetic (calf), Javi Garcia (unspecified) - who both picked up injuries in the Newcastle game - or Vincent Kompany.
City skipper Kompany has missed the last four matches due to a thigh problem, and regarding the Belgium defender, Pellegrini said: "Vincent is progressing but I think it will be after the international break maybe that he will be fit - before that I think is difficult.
"He is a very important player but I think we have a strong squad just for this case. Other players can play.
"We played the last five matches (Kompany's last appearance was when he came off in the first half of the victory over Everton on October 5), won four and lost just one against Chelsea, and I think we deserved more.
"So he is always an important player, but I think we can play also without him."
Club captain Russell Martin has called on Norwich's senior players to stand up and be counted at the Etihad.
The Canaries head north on the back of a 3-0 drubbing by Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Capital One Cup.
It was a third defeat in the last four for Chris Hughton's side, who could only draw 0-0 at home to Cardiff last weekend which saw them stay in the bottom three.
Norwich have spent more than B#20million over the summer to avoid being embroiled in another dogfight for survival.
Club record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel, though, will miss Saturday's match because of a foot injury while England under-21 winger Nathan Redmond will be assessed on a hip problem.
Martin, 27, is one of the few players left at the Norfolk club who helped them climb up from League One under Paul Lambert.
The former Wycombe and Peterborough man, signed in January 2010, believes there is enough about the current group to pull clear of danger once again.
"We have set high standards in the past four years. The team spirit is still very much there and it is a humble group," Martin told a press conference.
"At present the results are not quite going for us, but within that group the senior players need to make their voices heard.
"We have to make sure we have that strong identity that, in my opinion, has meant no team has worked harder than us in the past when we go out on the pitch.
"That is what we need to get back to and if we do, we have more than enough quality to improve on last year."
Norwich will be without Alex Tettey for a few weeks after the midfielder damaged knee ligaments while Scotland winger Robert Snodgrass is doubtful for Saturday after suffering concussion at Old Trafford.