Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini feels he has “two number one goalkeepers” now Willy Caballero has arrived at the club.
England stopper Joe Hart has been City’s established first choice in goal for several years, although he was dropped for a period by Pellegrini last term before reclaiming his place, with Costel Pantilimon taking over for seven straight Barclays Premier League games.
While Pantilimon was released this summer and has moved on to Sunderland, City have recruited Caballero from Malaga, a switch that has seen him reunite with Pellegrini, the pair having previously worked together at the Spanish outfit.
On his arrival in July, Caballero said: “City already have a great goalkeeper in Joe Hart, but I will try to compete for the number one spot.”
And ahead of a possible debut for the 32-year-old Argentinian gloveman in Sunday’s Community Shield against Arsenal at Wembley, Pellegrini has added to the sense that Hart may have quite a battle on his hands this season to keep his starting spot.
“Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday, Pellegrini stressed he would not be making his Wembley team selection for another 24 hours, but said: “I have two number one goalkeepers, (the same as) I have two number one full-backs, on the right and left, and in other positions.”
The Chilean manager did also say he views Hart as “the best goalkeeper in England”.
Pellegrini said: “(Caballero is settling in) very well - he is a very good goalkeeper, I know him from Malaga, and I think he is very happy here.
“I am sure Willy will be very important for us but I also continue thinking we have the best goalkeeper in England in Joe Hart.
“Top teams need two players for each position because we have to play so many games during the year.
“The best way to have the highest performance from the players is for it to be very competitive between them.”
Asked if he felt Hart had more competition to deal with now from Caballero than previously with Romania international Pantilimon, Pellegrini said: “We will see during the year. When we finish the season I can tell you if he’s had more or less competition.”
While Caballero and another summer recruit, midfielder Fernando, could make their City bows on Sunday, the Premier League champions will be without eight players for the match.
Frank Lampard is deemed not ready to feature yet following his arrival on loan, and the same applies to fellow new signing Bacary Sagna, along with Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Fernandinho and skipper Vincent Kompany - six City players who were involved in the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Alvaro Negredo is the other man to miss out due to his foot injury.