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Hart to start Europa League qualifier

18 August 2010

Roberto Mancini announced Joe Hart will start in goal for City in tomorrow’s away leg of City’s Europa League qualification tie against FC Timişoara. It’s hard to see this as anything other than an indication that Shay Given will be on his way out of the club. Probably on a season-long loan, hopefully with a recall provision.

I was hoping for an arrangement whereby one keeper would start the 38 league matches and the other would start the cup ties. If City were to advance far into the three cup competitions in which it will be participating this season, that could provide as many as 30 additional matches — and possibly even more with FA Cup replays. That seems like more than enough games to go around.

Perhaps Mancini is seeking continuity for a defense that leaked far too many goals last season. Or perhaps Given had no interest in appearing in as few as four games this season, should the unthinkable happen and City crash out as early as possible in all three cup competitions. But for whatever reason, this doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

As far as a destination for the Irish No. 1, Celtic seem to be a very real possibility, and I’d definitely prefer that to seeing him as a Premier League rival. Glockner has made no bones about wanting Given on loan at Fulham, and while sure I’m Mark Hughes would love a reunion, this would aid Top Four rival Arsenal by allowing the Cottagers to sell them Mark Schwarzer. Now it could be argued that Schwarzer will be sold to the Gunners one way or another, but I’d rather City not aid a competitor — even indirectly.

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