• Premier League

Hart not expecting return as City line up Fulop

ESPN Soccernet staff
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Joe Hart has been the league's finest goalkeeper this season © Getty Images
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Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart is expecting to remain on loan at Birmingham for the remainder of the season.

City's No. 1 Shay Given dislocated his shoulder against Arsenal and, with Stuart Taylor already injured, Roberto Mancini faces a 'keeper crisis ahead of crucial games against Aston Villa, Spurs and West Ham.

It leaves them with Faroe Islands international Gunnar Nielsen as their only available senior 'keeper, sparking reports the Eastlands club will try to get Hart back for the final two games of the campaign.

But while having sympathy for Given, Hart does not anticipate returning to his parent club until the summer. Hart said: "I am devastated for Shay. I texted him. You don't want that to happen to anyone, especially someone like him, a really great keeper and a good person.

''All I can do is wish him a speedy recovery and hope he gets back between the posts as quickly as possible. The loan? As far as I know, that's the way it is. I will be staying here.

''I really enjoy what I'm doing with the boys at Birmingham and in training and just try to repay their efforts with my performances.''

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish insisted after Sunday's derby with Aston Villa that he anticipates Hart remaining with the midlands club until May. McLeish has already intimated that he wants to sign Hart for another season and believes the player would find it ''difficult'' if he has to return as No. 2 to Given next season.

If City fail to bring Hart back, the emerging favourite to replace Given between the posts is Sunderland's Marton Fulop. The Hungarian is currently understudy to Craig Gordon at the Stadium of Light.

"I can't confirm officially any approach because personally I haven't been contacted by anyone," Fulop told the Sunderland Mail. "But if the news is true then I'd go there happily and I would be hungry to play for Manchester City.

"This is an enormous honour for me that my name has been linked with a club which has such a great history."

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