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Joe wants to send fans home happy

Joe Hart training

Joe Hart training

Joe Hart wants his return to Manchester derby action to be an occasion for City fans to savour.

England's number one keeper may have been a Blue for four and a half years, but he has only played in two derbies so far, the memorable win at Old Trafford in February 2008 and a single-goal defeat at home later that year.

The arrival of Shay Given and a season on loan at Birmingham City have put Joe in the role of interested onlooker since, but now he can't wait to be thrown back into what is shaping up to be a mouth-watering night.

"For City fans it's always the first game that they look for," says the 23-year-old, "and they are the people we are playing for.

We want to give them something to talk about on Thursday morning and hopefully they can go home with a smile on their faces. We are playing for ourselves, but we are playing for our club and the fans have been so loyal to us that we want to pay them back.


He may not have played in last season's dramatic quartet of United fixtures, but Joe was encouraged by the displays his City team mates put up despite the last-minute jinx that struck three times.

"It was heartbreaking to watch, let alone to play in," he adds. "I was gutted for the lads, but they gave really good accounts of themselves. They brought the best out of United, it also brought the best out of Manchester City and the games could have swung one or the other. It just happened to go United's way, but all four games could have gone to either team."

That the two sides are so close in the table only adds more spice to the one of the highlights of any season, and for Joe it all points to a narrowing of the gap in the city since his arrival from Shrewsbury in May 2006.

"For an outside looking in, it seemed to be standard procedure for United to be winning titles but it is not that way anymore. There are a lot of good teams out there and we would like ourselves to be included. It makes things more exciting for the league and I am excited to be part of it.

"I think United demand respect, they do score a lot of late goals but it is not easy to do that. They have world class players who can do that, but if you look at our squad we have five or six who can do that. United are aware of that, so are we and that is what makes this such an exciting game."

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