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Feb 25, 2013

Hart: City will keep fighting to the end

Joe Hart has promised that Manchester City will give it "a damn good go" in their bid to retain the title and insisted that the only way is up for the defending champions.

The goalkeeper saved a penalty from his England team-mate Frank Lampard as City beat Chelsea 2-0 on Sunday to record a first league win for a month.

And though they are 12 points behind Manchester United, Hart has not given up hope. He said: "It's going to be really hard, we've got a lot to do but we're going to have a damn good go at doing it.

"Even if there is one game to go and we are 12 points behind, we'll still believe. We've got to. We've got to keep fighting, you never know. We have just got to keep going."

City had gone three league games without a win before defeating Chelsea and manager Roberto Mancini had criticised his players after the 3-1 defeat at Southampton, where Hart erred as Steven Davis scored Saints' second goal.

He added: "We all under-performed against Southampton - that's gone, you can't do anything now, you move on from that. You can speculate and talk about the past but we have just got to look forward and try to win. The only way is up for us."

Hart did not play again for 15 days with Costel Pantilimon deputising for him in the FA Cup win over Leeds, as he has done in the other games in the competition this season.

He added: "I totally respect the fact Costel has done great and has done brilliantly in the FA Cup for us. It is always going to be the case, sometimes you have got to wait. I have waited a lot longer than two weeks to play games, so I am happy to just play."

City were again without captain Vincent Kompany, who has not played since injuring his calf in the FA Cup win at Stoke on January 26, and Hart praised the back four for keeping a clean sheet against the Champions League winners.

He added: "People forget Maicon and Micah [Richards] are out injured, there's Vinny and Nasta [Matija Nastasic] has been a sensation. For his age, he is like a rock. Kolo [Toure] is Kolo, you know you are going to get everything you've got. There's Joleon [Lescott] on the bench. I think we are really blessed when it comes to defenders."

Jack Rodwell was a surprise selection in midfield, making his first league start since September after an injury-hit debut season at the Etihad Stadium, and Hart was pleased for the former Everton player.

He said: "It is nice to see Jack. I am really happy for him. He's a really good boy. It's been hard for him, he's been injured a lot but when you get him fit you get good performances.

"Whatever Jack needs to do, whatever he needs, this club will give it to him. Be it fans or players, we're there for him because you know when you have got quality. Hopefully he'll get a little run of games together and we will see what he is about."

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