Roberto Mancini says he has "total trust" in Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, but insists that he is prepared to drop the England No 1 if his loss of form becomes a cause for alarm.
Hart, who has won the last two Golden Glove awards for most clean sheets in a Premier League season, will retain his place for City's clash with Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium this afternoon.
The 25 year-old has endured the first notable form slump of his career this campaign, keeping just five clean sheets in 20 appearances for club and country.
And while Hart produced a memorable display during City's Champions League draw against Borussia Dortmund last month, a number of mistakes - his headed mis-clearance which teed up Zlatan Ibrahimovic's stunning overhead goal for Sweden in midweek being the most recent - has placed the spotlight on the goalkeeper for the first in his career.
But City manager Mancini insisted he was not yet ready to drop Hart in favour of understudy Costel Pantilimon.
"Costel is a good keeper and if Joe will not play well for five or six games, I can change the keeper," Mancini said. "This is normal for me and for every manager, but I trust totally in Joe. I trust him 100%.
"I'm sure that sometimes he can make a mistake. This is the keeper's life and I can't change this. But for me, Joe is the best keeper in England, absolutely. He is the first choice here too, but if he does not play well I can change, I don't have any problem doing this."
Mancini rebuked Hart for post-match comments criticising the team's performances following the 3-2 Champions League defeat against Real Madrid in September, but the Italian has since claimed that his reaction was because of a misunderstanding.
And he underlined his faith in Hart by insisting that he could become one of the world's best goalkeepers. "Two years ago, when Joe was young, a lot of people wanted Shay Given as the goalie, but I decided on Joe because he can become one of the top keepers in the world. But Joe is young and he needs to work very hard because, only like this, can you keep high your performance."
Mancini is expected to restore Mario Balotelli to the City squad today after confirming that the Italian forward was dropped for the game against Tottenham last week because of his poor performances in training.
Meanwhile, Carlos Tevez is facing a driving ban after having his Porsche impounded by police on Thursday evening for driving without a valid licence. Tevez only has a provisional licence.