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Hart: We've got to match Leicester's hunger

Joe Cele

Joe Cele

Joe Hart maintains Leicester's position in the Premier League table is no fluke.

While Foxes fans would likely admit they have been the season's surprise package, the shot-stopper emphasized their success has been earned on merit, and added City need to produce a near-perfect display if they are to defeat Claudio Ranieri's men.

"If you just look at the fact that they’re top of the league after 24 game then yes it’s amazing but if you’ve watched them every week then it isn’t that amazing because they’ve been worthy winners in the majority of their games," Hart stated.

"They’ve sneaked the odd result but who hasn’t when you’re top of the league! They fully deserve to be where they are and it’s going to be a really tough game for us. We need to beat them.

"They more than deserve to be where they are at the moment. If they keep that up they’re obviously going to be there or there abouts [at the end of the season]. After the game on Saturday, they’re done for us this season and then it’s all about what we do."

Discussing the suggestion a victory for Manuel Pellegrini's men would send out a warning of their title ambitions, he continued: "It’s a statement that would only last until the following week when different statements are made.

"As big a statement as a win can be on Saturday we hope to make that statement, but I’m realistic that it’s not going to shape the entire end of the season."

The clash will see City and England's number one come up against familiar faces with Jamie Vardy and Kasper Schmeichel set to line up for the Foxes.

Vardy

Although Hart is pleased the pair have earned deserved accolade in recent months, he asserted friendships will be put aside for 90 minutes tomorrow.

On Vardy's impressive campaign, he reflected: "I’m really happy for how the season has gone for him. He’s a fantastic player and a great guy. He’s really exploded. I think he’s just been more prolific.

"For me as a keeper it’s about knowing how he’ll chase every ball and now he’s added the finishing too. It’s priceless really. We study the team we’re playing against and I watch football as a fan.

"He’s a good guy. I got him as soon as he walked through the door at England. I was obviously aware of him having spoken to Kasper and was aware having been at England for a long time that he didn’t have any teammates with him but he is exactly as he seems - straight down the line. He is who he is and he’s a lot of fun to be around.

"I’ve spoken to Kasper loads, he’s someone who I still speak to regularly and who regardless of football is a good friend of mine. I think a lot of him.

"We’ve been close since I first came to Manchester City. He was the first guy to welcome me here and I’ll never forget that. He’s done amazing things in football and he’s doing really, really well.

"He’s one of the main reasons Leicester are where they are. He’s been fantastic this season as he has been ever since I’ve known him. He’s a great keeper and he’s really had to scrap hard to get where he is.

"For 90 minutes he’s not going to be my friend, he’s going to be the opposition, but as soon as that’s finished we are who we are."

With City still challenging for all four trophies, much has been said this week about the Blues' chances of securing the quadruple. Hart admitted the feat is a tall order, but insisted it has to be the aim.

"The squad is going to be stretched if we’re going to achieve," he conceded, "but what’s the point otherwise? We’re going to have to dig in and get the bodies out when we can. We’re in a good moment and are going to have to keep going and cash in."

February's fixture list brings games in every competition, including the League Cup final and Champions League last-16 first-leg. The 'keeper confessed a difficult few weeks lie ahead - but claimed the Blues are not looking past Saturday's game.

He added: "There’s never been one month when I’ve been in the Premier League and thought 'we can write that month off'.

"Every game is big. Leicester is a huge game for us now but Sunderland was in the week just gone. We approach every single game with the same appetite.”

This week brought a boost for the Club as captain Vincent Kompany returned to training. Though statistics show City perform better defensively with their skipper in the side, Hart believes there has been an improvement in recent games.

"It’s better, more consistent," he said. "We had quite a few games where the odd goal was sneaking in even though we were beating teams. We won a couple of games 5-1, 6-1, 4-1 so we have to accept that conceding a goal isn’t the end of the world but it hurts me!

"It hurts me more than anything but the team’s more important. It’s the goals that end in defeat that hurt more so recently to keep the clean sheets is good but we’re scoring goals at the other end which is the most important thing."

City's previous Premier League title wins have witnessed the Blues' pip their rivals to the crown on the final day of the season.

Currently sitting second in the table, Pellegrini's men find themselves in a similar situation to previous years, and it has been suggested they are best-placed to overcome their rivals once again.

Hart remained coy on that argument, commenting: "Everyone handles things differently and I know for a fact that there’s going to be an awful lot of hunger in their dressing room, but we’ve got to match that.

"We are hungry. Once you’ve won one, it doesn’t mean the foot is off the gas. It’s a short career and we’re all very happy to be at Manchester City.

"We realise the opportunities that we’ve got here and so we’ve got to keep hungry, keep your appetite and keep building up your medals."

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