Hart hails Man City defence
Goalkeeper Joe Hart has saluted the team-mates who have helped him make Manchester City's defence the best in the league so far this season.
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1. Joe Hart
City are currently second in the Barclays Premier League table, trailing leaders Manchester United by 12 points, but no-one in the division can better them in terms of the number of goals they have let in.
Roberto Mancini's side have conceded just 24 times in their 27 top-flight fixtures to date in 2012-13, six goals fewer than the next-best total.
Plenty of credit for that must go to Hart, an ever-present in the league who saved a Frank Lampard penalty in Sunday's 2-0 win over Chelsea, while the 25-year-old himself has paid tribute to those who play in front of him.
"We are so blessed with quality defenders," England international Hart said of his club-mates.
"People forget Maicon and Micah (Richards) are out injured as well as Vincent Kompany.
"But Matija Nastasic has been a sensation. For his age (19), he is like a rock.
"Kolo (Toure) is Kolo - you know what you are going to get with him because he gives everything he's got.
"There's also Joleon Lescott waiting to come in and that's not even mentioning Zaba (Pablo Zabaleta), (Gael) Clichy or (Aleksandar) Kolarov, so I think we are really blessed when it comes to defenders."
Mancini hopes skipper Kompany will be fit to play in next Monday's league trip to Aston Villa having missed five games due to a calf problem, and has also revealed right-back Maicon faces a month on the sidelines after a knee operation.
The Brazilian was out for the Christmas programme and the whole of January with a knee injury but had made three substitute appearances this month.
City boss Mancini said: "He has had surgery on his knee, but in a month he can recover.
"The operation was to clean his meniscus."
Someone else who has endured injury troubles is Jack Rodwell, who in the Chelsea match made only his third start for City since joining them from Everton last summer.
Rodwell put in an impressive display and Hart is hoping the midfielder will start getting some regular action.
"It is nice to see Jack back and fit again," said Hart.
"I am really happy for him. He's a really good lad.
"It's been hard for him. He's been injured a lot but when you get him fit you get good performances.
"Hopefully he'll get a little run of games together and we will see what he is about."