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Page last updated at 12:09 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 13:09 UK

Roberto Mancini hints at Joe Hart return to Man City

Birmingham City keeper Joe Hart
Former Shrewsbury keeper Hart has one senior England cap

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has hinted that goalkeeper Joe Hart will not be loaned out next season.

With Shay Given installed as City's first-choice keeper, Hart, 22, has spent the season on loan at Birmingham.

However, Mancini told of Hart's importance, telling the club website: "Shay and Joe are two of the best in the league.

"The season is long. If you are playing in the Champions League then you need players - you need two top keepers."

Hart has failed to add to his solitary England cap while on loan, but could make the England squad for this summer's World Cup in South Africa.

And Mancini added that he has been impressed with the former Shrewsbury player's development.

"It is important that I speak with Joe in the weeks after the Premier League finishes, then we will see about next season," he said.

"He has worked very well at Birmingham and he has developed."

Earlier in the week, Blues boss Alex McLeish voiced fears that Hart could face a frustrating season on the bench if he were to return to Eastlands.

Speaking after Hart had put in another fine performance in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool, McLeish said: "Joe sees himself as a number one. It would devastate him if he had to sit on the bench next season."


Hart arrived at St Andrew's in June on a season-long loan eight months after signing a new five-year contract with Manchester City.

After joining Manchester City from Shrewsbury in 2006 the England international established himself as the number one keeper at the club, only to fall behind in the pecking order following Given's arrival in February 2009.

McLeish would like to keep Hart at St Andrew's, where he has played a key role in Birmingham's impressive form this season, keeping nine clean sheets in the process.

"At the moment Joe is sublime," said McLeish. "City haven't made their minds up but I'm sure if they get in the Champions League they might."

"We have been pretty strong at St Andrew's this season," added McLeish. "Teams are finding it tough to come here and long may it continue.

"We have to thank the fans for that as well, I have to take my hat off to them - but what can you say about those players, they go right to the whistle."

see also
Sunday football as it happened
04 Apr 10 |  Football
Sunday's football photos
04 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Birmingham 1-1 Liverpool
04 Apr 10 |  Premier League
Birmingham 1-1 Arsenal
27 Mar 10 |  Premier League
World Cup scouting: goalkeepers
30 Mar 10 |  World Cup 2010
McLeish keen to keep keeper Hart
14 Feb 10 |  Birmingham
Keeper Hart gets Capello backing
06 Feb 10 |  Birmingham
McLeish tips Hart for World Cup
13 Jan 10 |  Birmingham
Birmingham sign Hart and Espinoza
24 Jun 09 |  Birmingham
Hart signs new Man City contract
26 Oct 08 |  Man City
Shilton tips Hart for World Cup squad
23 Mar 10 |  Football

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