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Football | Barclays Premier League

Hart tells team not to lose heart



Joe Hart has told his Manchester City teammates to forget about their defeat to Sunderland and focus on getting their title ambitions back on track at Norwich on Saturday.

The Premier League champions trail seven points behind leaders Manchester United after the 1-0 defeat to Sunderland on Wednesday and now face a tricky trip to take on giant-killers Norwich at Carrow Road.

Norwich have already beaten Arsenal and Manchester United this season and another surprise win could deal a hammer blow to City's title hopes.

But England goalkeeper Hart insists it is still possible to win the title, as City clawed back a similar lead last term and eventually overhauled United on the final day of the season.

"We've had leads, United have had the lead, it's to-ing and fro-ing at the moment," he said.

"We're a team of winners, it's hard and it hurts but we've got to move on. It is hard to lead and it is hard to chase too.

"We've clawed points back before, we proved it at the end of last year. We've just got to believe.

"We are halfway through the season and there is still a very long way to go to the end. We have to go into the next game and give it our best as always.

"You will get setbacks over the season but you have to overcome them and get on with the next match, which we will do.

"It's a very long campaign and there are still a lot of matches and a lot of points to be played for."

Hart shrugged off criticism after the Sunderland defeat that City have taken their foot off the pedal this season, but admits it is tougher as champions.

Teams such as Sunderland have been defending much more against City now they hold the title and that makes it harder for Roberto Mancini's flair players to thrive.

"It's how football goes sometimes. It's not that we didn't try, didn't give 100 per cent, or haven't shown qualities," Hart said.

"It just wasn't there and we need to turn that round quickly. We weren't lacking in effort. We gave it everything but couldn't break through a Sunderland wall."

"We have dominated a lot of games but people play differently against us now.

"We have to adjust to that and hopefully the second half of the season will be better for us."

Mario Balotelli missed the visit to Sunderland with illness and it is not known if he will return for the Norwich trip, while Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy are battling to overcome knocks.

Norwich were beaten 1-0 at home by Chelsea on Wednesday, but Chris Hughton's side will be confident of putting in a better performance against inconsistent City.

"We need to make sure we are right in the game on Saturday," Hughton said. "And if we are that gives us a chance.

"Most people would have expected Man City to have won that game (at Sunderland) because of what they have got and the way they are pushing but Sunderland, on the back of some poor form, are now picking up a little," he said.

"City will want a reaction but we also want a reaction here because although the Chelsea game was a tight one and there is no shame for us in losing to a top, top team, it hurts.

"We want to get back into winning ways and it will be a good opportunity for us."

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