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Football: Hart fit to play for City against Swansea despite cut, says Pellegrini

Published on Dec 30, 2013 11:07 PM
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Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart is seen with a cut under his eye as he salutes fans after winning their English Premier League soccer match against Crystal Palace at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, northern England, on Dec 28, 2013. Hart, who needed five stitches to a cut under his eye after being injured against Crystal Palace on Saturday, is fit for the visit to Swansea City on New Year's Day, coach Manuel Pellegrini said on Monday, Dec 30, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, who needed five stitches to a cut under his eye after being injured against Crystal Palace on Saturday, is fit for the visit to Swansea City on New Year's Day, coach Manuel Pellegrini said on Monday.

The England goalkeeper, who has returned to the side in excellent form after being rested by Pellegrini for six weeks, was man of the match in the tight 1-0 win over Palace at the Etihad Stadium, as City made it 10 home league wins out of 10 this season.

He suffered the wound just under his left eye in an early collision with Palace's Cameron Jerome but stayed on the field and denied Palace with several key saves.

Pellegrini, who called Hart the "best goalkeeper in England" after his heroics in the 2-1 win over Liverpool on Boxing Day, is looking forward to the second half of the season after what he said was a "fantastic month" for City in December.

They start the New Year in second place, a point behind Arsenal after scoring 54 goals in 19 league matches.

Although his mathematics were slightly off - he said City won nine out of 10 matches when in fact they won eight of nine - there was no doubting his satisfaction with the team's recent run.

After telling reporters he expected Hart to start against Swansea, the Chilean added: "It was a fantastic month for us, we won nine of our 10 games and have won six of the last seven and it was very important for us to recover points on Arsenal.

Among the wins was the 6-3 victory over the Gunners on Dec 14 and although the London club top the Premier League on 42 points, Pellegrini is optimistic about the second half of the season.

"It was very important for us to finish the year in a position we wanted to be in, it's always better to be first, but I think to recover six points in a month and to still continue in the Capital One (League) Cup and the Champions League is no bad thing.

"The first half of the season has been very good for us against the opposition we have been playing and now from here we will try to win it.

"But it will be very close - the top five are separated by just six points and the second half will very close too, exactly the same."