Pep Guardiola declined to offer Joe Hart a Manchester City lifeline when assessing his goalkeeping options for next season.
Hart lost his long-held status as City’s number one when Guardiola took the reins at the Etihad Stadium before the start of this term, with Willy Caballero and then new signing Claudio Bravo preferred.
The England international has impressed on loan at Torino in Serie A, with Bravo’s slipshod displays in his absence not preventing large sections of City’s fanbase from pining for a player who joined the club in 2006.
Hart, 29, still has two years left on his contract at the Etihad Stadium at the end of this season, unlike Caballero – the 35-year-old who usurped Bravo as number one this month – who is one of six senior players able to leave at the end of the campaign on a free transfer as it stands.
“I am going to decide about the prospects for the end of the season at the end of the season,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth-round replay against Huddersfield Town.
“I trust a lot in both [goalkeepers] and we are going to decide – not just the goalkeepers, the midfielders, wingers, strikers, full-backs – we are going to decide at the end of the season.”
Pressed on what the future held for Hart, Guardiola simply replied: “I’m so happy with Willy and Claudio.
“We are going to talk about it [Hart’s situation] at the end of the season.”
Along with Caballero, Yaya Toure, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and Jesus Navas must play for their futures until that point, with Guardiola willing to wait on a decision and risk losing some of his seasoned campaigners on a free transfer.
Having been exiled early in the season, Toure has returned to become an integral part of the City midfield over recent months.
Crowd favourite Zabaleta, along with Sagna and Clichy, has been rotated at full-back, but that remains an area of the City squad ripe for fresh blood – in contrast to the wide attacking positions, where the impressive form of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling has seen Navas become an increasingly peripheral figure.
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“We are going to decide at the end of the season,” Guardiola said. “They have to try to keep going to convince me every day.
“There are four, five or six players who are out of contract but they know the situation.
“Of course, there is a risk – we know they can sign a contract for another club and we have to accept that. But we are going to decide in the last month of the season.”
A visit to Abu Dhabi and a warm-weather training break last week allowed Guardiola to spend time with City owner Sheikh Mansour and the manager’s future seems a good deal more secure.
“He would like that I stay here for a long, long, long, long time. But of course it depends on the results,” the 45-year-old added.
“I had good relations with almost all my owners in Barcelona and Bayern Munich [former clubs] – it is important to know them. We are here because of the results. If the results are not good we are replaced.”