Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City manager Pellegrini dismisses fresh Begovic rumours

By Andy Hampson

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is adamant England goalkeeper Joe Hart will not be leaving the club in January.

It has been claimed that Hart, who was dropped by Pellegrini earlier this month, could be loaned out in the mid-season transfer window.

Pellegrini also insists he is not looking to sign another keeper, therefore denying fresh reports linking the club with Stoke's Asmir Begovic.

Hart, after sitting out City's last five games, is poised to return for tonight's Champions League clash against Viktoria Plzen at the Etihad Stadium.

Pellegrini said: "There is news of about six or seven goalkeepers that we want but it is not true.

"Of course he stays. There is no chance that Joe Hart could go out of this squad in January."

Hart's situation continues to command much attention because he remains crucial to England's World Cup plans.

He has not played for City since a late error – one of a number of mistakes for club and country over the past year – proved costly in City's loss to Chelsea on October 27.

An encouraging display in England's friendly against Germany last week raised the prospect of a return but he remained on the bench for Sunday's 6-0 thrashing of Tottenham.

With qualification from Champions League Group D already assured, Pellegrini has promised Hart will get another chance against Plzen but has offered no long-term guarantees.

Costel Pantilimon has done little wrong since taking Hart's place and could be back in goal for Sunday's encounter with Swansea in the Barclays Premier League.

Pellegrini said: "I think that is a question for next Saturday.

"When we start the next game of the Premier League we will talk about who will start playing.

"The important thing for Joe is that he will play tomorrow and we hope he will have a very good performance."

Pellegrini was speaking at Eastlands at a pre-match press conference ahead of the Plzen fixture.

If results go their way, they could still supplant reigning champions Bayern at the top of the group and Pellegrini wants to finish with a flourish.

The Chilean said: "I think it is very important to try to win the group.

"It is not the most important thing, the most important thing is to qualify, but I think it is important to be at the top."

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