Costel Pantilimon has stepped in at goal for City over the past three matches, with manager Pellegrini stating, per BBC Sport, that the England international needed a "bit of a rest." Pantilimon kept clean sheets against Newcastle United and Norwich City domestically, before conceding two goals against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Hart's recent absence has fuelled speculation that Manchester City will move for a new goalkeeper in January with Metro's Hannah Duncan reporting that Stoke City stopper Asmir Begovic was apparently a target in the summer.
Would the Bosnian have been a wise addition, and is he one that City should still be looking at though?
Begovic at Stoke
A long-term No. 1 at the Britannia Stadium, Begovic has gained a reputation as one of the top goalkeepers in the Premier League thanks to his good shot-stopping, reflexes and ability to take the ball from aerial crosses into his penalty area.
Without a doubt, he is a more than capable goalkeeper. And clubs other than City have been linked with him in the past year or two.
Begovic is not infallible though, having made an error that cost his team a goal this season—though Hart's three goals from three errors takes some beating, admittedly.
Should he move anywhere at all in January, Begovic would expect to receive guarantees of first-team football, with his nation having qualified for the 2014 FIFA World Cup next summer. He will not risk his place in the squad for a mid-season move.
Hart's in the Right Place
Although he signed with City from Shrewsbury, Joe Hart has been at City for a long time and is an established international goalkeeper.
His qualities are undeniable and his strength of character has also been apparent, both in interviews and on the pitch. While he is going through a tough time with his form this year, there are few players in world football who do not suffer such a patch of form at one time or another.
Even looking at the top goalkeepers in the game at present as examples, Iker Casillas has lost his place at Real Madrid this year, Pepe Reina was displaced at Liverpool and loaned out, Igor Akinfeev lost his place in the Russian international side last year and there were question marks about Petr Cech going back a couple of seasons.
One thing they all have in common is excellent mental strength, and Hart will prove no different over the long run. He will win back his place in City's side and return to being an excellent regular starter for them—if given the chance to do so.
Changing goalkeepers at this point is not the way to go for City; they already have a £20 million-rated stopper on their books. Hart merely needs a little time and support, and City will be far better off with him than by chasing another big-name signing.
Aside from what he has already proven, he is English and was raised through City's younger teams. While Pellegrini and co. might not care (rightly, it's not their problem) about England's national team, they do have an obligation to register a number of home-grown players in their squad. Hart is one of those and one they should not lightly discard.
Pantilimon was already a good goalkeeper in his own right, but this spell in City's first team could do one of two things: show him that he will get opportunities if he remains at the club or put him in the window for a good team to take him off City's hands.
However well he performs, City's weak backline means he will concede goals and, at some stage, there will be an opportunity for Hart to come back into the starting line-up.
The Romanian's best hope, if he is looking for a regular No. 1 spot, is to make everyone aware of his capabilities and look for a move in the summer—which he'll have to do to sustain his place in the national team.
City will look elsewhere for a new back-up to Hart, quite possibly another very good goalkeeper with first-team experience in the Premier League, just not Asmir Begovic. Too good, too expensive, but not quite as good as Hart can be again.
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