MANCHESTER City goalkeeper Joe Hart has praised former team-mates Ashley Cole and Micah Richards for embracing moves to Italy but insists he is not ready to follow suit, despite facing a renewed fight for his place.
Hart’s former England colleague Cole is part of the in-form Roma team facing City in tonight’s Champions League clash, while former Etihad Stadium defender Richards also moved to Serie A in the summer, joining Fiorentina on a season’s loan.
The Three Lions No1 has been left out of the City team for the last two games but is set to return between the posts for this evening’s second group fixture and, though manager Manuel Pellegrini remains cool on talk of a new contract for Hart, has no plans to quit.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the boys who have [joined Italian teams], Micah being closest to home for me,” he said. “He seems to be loving it out there, but right now I am happy with what is going on at this club. We are fighting on all fronts. While I’m welcome here, I am more than happy to stay and see where that takes me.”
Pellegrini played down concerns over Hart’s contract, which has less than two years to run, calling it “important, but not the most important thing in this moment”, while the 27-year-old stopper admitted finding his recent rest difficult to appreciate.
“It is hard for me to see it that way. I am sure when I retire from football I will see them, but right now I am not going to see them,” Hart added. “Of course I want to play every game, that is my nature, my professionalism. I am not the manager, just a player. I live by the decisions of the manager.”
IN FOCUS: ROMA
Roma have made a blistering start, winning their first five league games to top Serie A and thrashing CSKA Moscow 5-1 in their European opener
The Italians’ evergreen skipper Francesco Totti turned 38 at the weekend but is yet to score or win in England in club competition in nine games spanning 16 years
Ashley Cole isn’t the only familiar face in this Roma side, which also includes former City full-back Maicon, on-loan Newcastle defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, ex-Arsenal forward Gervinho and Urby Emanuelson, who spent four months at Fulham