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Birmingham boss Alex McLeish wants keeper Hart to stay

Joe Hart
Hart has been a revelation in the Birmingham goal

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish wants to keep on-loan Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart at St Andrew's for at least another season.

McLeish would like to make the 22-year-old keeper's move permanent but failing that he hopes to extend the loan deal.

McLeish said: "I've put into the system that our chief executive should be talking to City about next season.

"Joe loves it here and we'd like to think we have improved him with some of the things we have worked on."

Hart has made 66 starts for City since joining from Shrewsbury in 2006 but his first-team chances have been limited since the arrival of Shay Given from Newcastle last February.

It would be a massive step to throw a young keeper who has only one cap into a World Cup

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish

Hart has been at St Andrew's since the start of the season and has impressed in Birmingham's run to eighth in the top flight.

Only Chelsea, Manchester United and Aston Villa have conceded fewer Premier League goals than Birmingham's 26 this season.

"We spoke to City a couple of months ago but not since then, and Joe has had no contact from them," added McLeish.

"Joe loves his team-mates here, he loves the club and the ambience. When you have the feelgood factor, the players can give their best and play without fear.

"If I can't get Hart permanently, would I settle for another loan season? Yes.


"We have ironed out a few rough edges and I hope City recognise that and give us a bit of goodwill for next season."

McLeish believes that Hart should go to the World Cup with Fabio Capello's England squad, but not be first choice goalkeeper.

"I met Fabio at a dinner and he expressed his delight at Joe," said McLeish. "He is pleased he is playing games every week. I am sure Fabio will have his name ticked for the trip to South Africa.

"But it would be a massive step to throw a young keeper who has only one cap into a World Cup.

"Joe could handle it but it would be better to be fed into the system before you embark on a World Cup finals.

"If he was to make one error in South Africa, it is there for the whole world to see.

"You are scrutinised and the media are relentless in their persecution of people who make a mistake at that level.

"He should be eased in. I would think Capello will rely on experience in South Africa in terms of who plays."

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see also
Derby 1-2 Birmingham
13 Feb 10 |  FA Cup
Keeper Hart gets Capello backing
06 Feb 10 |  Birmingham
McLeish tips Hart for World Cup
13 Jan 10 |  Birmingham
Kiely sees England keeper problem
30 Dec 09 |  Football

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