Joe Hart best goalkeeper in England - Manuel Pellegrini

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has described goalkeeper Joe Hart as "the best in England."

Hart made several key saves in the Blues' 2-1 win over Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day.

The 26-year-old international was dropped by Pellegrini after a string of mistakes earlier in the season, but was recently restored to the side.

Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool: Manuel Pellegrini praises Joe Hart performance

The Chilean said: "He has worked very hard in the last month and a half. He is the best goalkeeper in England."

Hart was left out in favour of Romanian understudy Costel Pantilimon for the meeting with Norwich at the start of November, a week after a mistake which allowed Chelsea's Fernando Torres to score the winner in City's 2-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

The former Shrewsbury Town keeper had also been criticised after a number of errors, most notably in City's game against Bayern Munich in the Champions League earlier in October and in England's victory over Scotland at Wembley in August.

Following three appearances in the Champions League and Capital One Cup, Hart was restored to City's Premier League side for the 4-2 win over Fulham on 21 December.

Saves from Hart to deny Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson helped City claim a victory over Liverpool that moved them into second place in the table, one point behind Arsenal.

"I am very pleased with Joe - not only now but I think in all the games he played in the last month - he did very well," Pellegrini added.

"I thought it was good for Joe to have a rest. He was not in his best moment."