It was again Joe Hart’s name on most of the back pages this morning, the treatment of City and England’s number one even more brutal than usual after revelations that he could lose his place on a regular basis.
Pantilimon will start against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup as he would even if Joe was in peak form, but a decent performance is likely to see the Romanian keep his place for this weekend’s clash with Norwich. Incredibly, Pantilimon has yet to play a single minute of Premier League football in over 2 years at City, but his chance may arrive on Saturday.
Hart, meanwhile, doesn’t think he should shoulder all the blame for the Chelsea catastrophe.
On a brighter note, Micah Richards is edging closer to a new contract after revealing he loves life at City and want to spend the next ten years of his career at the club he joined as a 14-year-old.
Micah has been seeking assurances from City about playing time and keeping his options open since the new contract was offered in early summer, but is expected to sign a new long-term deal before the end of the year.
Losing Richards would have been a blow to City as he is the only academy product currently able to command regular game time when fit. City have serious intent to give the team a greater homegrown feel in the coming years, with more academy graduates making the step up.
Yaya Touré is City’s sole representative on the shortlist for FIFA’s 2013 Ballon d’Or. Marca speculated yesterday that both Yaya and Aguero could be on the list, but Aguero missed the cut. Aguero didn’t have his best season last year, with injuries interrupting it, but if he keeps up his current form will surely be a candidate next year.
Yaya will play no part in tomorrow’s Newcastle game after flying back to Manchester from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where he was appointed an ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Marcos Lopes will miss out on a rare first team opportunity tomorrow after picking up a minor injury at the worst possible time. Lopes made a big impression in the last round against Wigan and would have hoped to do likewise against stronger opposition.
Newcastle will be missing defenders Fabricio Coloccini and Stephen Taylor through injury tomorrow night, while Alan Pardew is considering leaving out star men Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy with Newcastle hosting Chelsea in the 12:45pm kick-off this Saturday.
Probable teams for tomorrow’s Capital One Cup match (7:45pm kick-off, Sky Sports 1):
City: Pantilimon, Richards, Demichelis, Lescott, Kolarov, Garcia, Rodwell, Milner, Jovetić, Navas, Dzeko
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon, Anita, Tiote, Sammy Ameobi, Sissoko, Marveaux, Cissé