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City boss Pellegrini hails in-form Hart

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has hailed goalkeeper Joe Hart for his improved form in the second half of the season.

Joe Hart
Hart has shone for City in recent weeks.

Mooney: Hart the hero
Brewin: Three Things
Mooney: Aguero concerns

England international Hart was dropped for seven league matches in November and December after making a series of costly mistakes.

But he has regained his place and made crucial saves in recent weeks, including tipping a Steven Naismith shot wide as City won 3-2 at Everton on Saturday.

And Pellegrini told the Manchester Evening News: "Of course I think not only here [at Everton], Joe has [put in] a very good performance [in the second half of the campaign]."

Romania international Costel Pantilimon was preferred after Hart erred to allow Chelsea's Fernando Torres to score a late winner against City at Stamford Bridge in the autumn, with that mistake following blunders against Cardiff, Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

But Pellegrini, who said he felt Hart had needed a rest, has been impressed with the way he responded to being omitted.

He added: "One of the good things that we did this year was to talk to him and sit him [out] some games because he was in a very bad moment, but he reacted as a professional player, the No.1 in England."

City face Aston Villa on Wednesday and are waiting to find out whether striker Sergio Aguero will be fit after Pellegrini described his substitution at Goodison Park as "a precaution."

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