Pellegrini cagey over Hart starting spot
Joe Hart faced an anxious wait to discover if he would be in action this weekend after Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to give his under-fire goalkeeper a vote of confidence on Friday.
The Chilean boss would not be drawn on whether the England No 1 would be between the posts for Saturday's Premier League match at home to Norwich.
Hart has made several high-profile errors this season, the latest during City's 2-1 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last weekend when his ill-judged decision to rush to the edge of his area paved the way for Fernando Torres's late winner.
The 26-year-old was replaced for City's midweek League Cup win over Newcastle by Costel Pantilimon.
However, with the Romanian often playing for City in cup competitions and many leading clubs often altering their teams for League Cup fixtures in particular, being left out in midweek was nothing like the blow to Hart's reputation that would be caused were he to be dropped for the Norwich match at Eastlands.
Pellegrini kept his cards close to his chest when asked Friday if Hart would play against the Canaries.
"Tomorrow (Saturday) you will know the answer," the manager replied.
Pressed on whether it was a difficult decision, Pellegrini said: "It is a decision I have to take every week with 22 players."
And he was equally unforthcoming when asked how Hart had reacted to missing the Newcastle match.
"You must ask Joe -- I can't answer for him how disappointed he was," Pellegrini, whose side are now six points behind leaders Arsenal, 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."
Meanwhile former England goalkeeper Ray Clemence said what Hart needed more than anything now was the support of club and country.
"Joe Hart is the best goalkeeper England have got at this moment, but he is going through a difficult time," Clemence told Talksport Radio.
"And I'm pretty sure he would be the first to admit that. We all go through bad times and you need people to stand by you and have confidence in you," the Liverpool great added.
Clemence, who recently stepped down from his position as England goalkeeping coach, highlighted the cases of Paul Robinson and Scott Carson, both widely criticised for errors while on international duty, as precedents to be avoided when criticising Hart.
"What we have to be careful of, and we're terrible for it in this country, is getting on somebody's back and destroying their confidence," Clemence said.
"I've seen it happen to Paul Robinson when that ball bounced over his foot in Croatia, and Scott Carson was never forgiven for the Croatia game at Wembley (a defeat in 2007 which meant England failed to qualify the 2008 European Championships).
"It just affects them and some don't recover from it. I don't want to see that happen to Joe," Clemence said.