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Pellegrini praises Hart in City title push

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

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

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

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

Romania international Costel Pantilimon was preferred after Hart erred to allow Chelsea's Fernando Torres to score an autumn winner against City, following other blunders against Cardiff, Aston Villa and Bayern Munich.

But Pellegrini, who feels that the goalkeeper needed a rest, has been impressed with the way Hart 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 number one in England."

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

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