Mancini has high hopes for Hart

BY foxsports • April 1, 2011

After winning the battle with Shay Given to be Blues' number one this term, Hart has enjoyed a stellar campaign. The 23-year-old has managed 22 clean sheets in his 45 appearances for City this term, leaving him just four short of Nicky Weaver's club record. In addition, Hart has secured the number one berth for England, winning his 10th cap in Tuesday's friendly draw with Ghana at Wembley. Clearly, the Shrewsbury-born star still has a lot of improving to do, which is why Mancini is so sure he can become one of the best. "Joe Hart could become one of the top English keepers in history," said the Blues chief. "He is young and he is strong. "Like everyone, he makes mistakes but that is normal when you are young. Maybe sometimes he worries too much when he has the ball. "But he is getting better with every game. "Also, you have to remember, this is the first year he played for a club who were competing for the title. "Last season was the first time he played for a full year in the Premier League, with Birmingham. "He is already a fantastic keeper and he can still improve a lot." Although there was one off-field problem with Hart, when he was caught drunk on camera during a brief visit to Spain in October, largely, the keeper has stayed out of the headlines, unlike Mario Balotelli. Sent off against Dynamo Kiev on his last appearance at Eastlands for a studs-first challenge Mancini branded "stupid" at the time, Balotelli has attracted further negativity in the past fortnight following claims he threw a dart at a youth team player. He was also left out of the Italy squad for last week's Euro 2012 qualifying win over Slovenia and a subsequent friendly against Ukraine because his behaviour breached the code of ethics laid down by new coach Cesare Prandelli. None of this should really have come as a surprise to Mancini, since he was Balotelli's coach at Inter Milan. Yet he still retains faith in the youngster, and still believes Balotelli can become one the world's best players, even though he accepts behaviour must improve. "I don't regret bringing Mario here," said Mancini. "He is a fantastic player. He could be one of the top players in Europe. "But he is 20. Usually a player's behaviour is not good enough at that age. "He understands this situation very well. He knows England could be a fantastic experience for him. But his behaviour has to improve. "I have spoken to him because some of the things that have happened were not good. "Now everything that Mario does becomes a big story. But he wants to show he can change his behaviour in the last two months of the season. He has assured me of that." Although City are now free of the punishing two-game-a-week schedule they had been ploughing through since the middle of January, Mancini's problems have not disappeared just yet. The Blues have defensive issues to deal with again this weekend, with both Micah Richards and Jerome Boateng ruled out. Mancini revealed he has not given up hope of Richards making the FA Cup semi-final clash with Manchester United in a fortnight after he injured a hamstring on England Under-21 duty a week ago. Boateng will definitely miss the Wembley derby on April 16 though, with Mancini revealing the Germany international requires knee surgery after suffering a ligament injury in training with his national side earlier this week. "In the next two or three days Jerome will have surgery," said Mancini. "Maybe he can recover for the last two games."

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