International men of football: Hart relishes break after Austin’s power halts Man City

Joe Hart wants Manchester City to come back fresh and raring to go once the international break is over following a disappointing display at QPR.

City are now eight points behind a rampant Chelsea team after drawing 2-2 with Harry Redknapp’s struggling side at Loftus Road.

And goalkeeper Hart, who will be on duty for England this week with Roy Hodgson’s side to face Euro 2016 Group E chasers Slovenia on Saturday at Wembley, wants his teammates to be prepared for a big winter battle.

“I’d like to think we’re going to come back fresh,” the 27-year-old told City’s website.

“We’re going to be together for a lot longer now, we haven’t got an international period breaking us up over Christmas.

“We’ve got four months to really get our heads down and get ourselves into this league.”

Hart was at the centre of a rare occurrence at QPR when his double-touch free-kick found its way to QPR’s Charlie Austin.

The striker went on to score and duly celebrate only for referee Mike Dean to chalk the goal off and order Hart to retake the free-kick.

“I knew the rules, I’d touched it twice with my feet obviously. It’s a mistake and not ideal but rules are rules,” said Hart, who spoke to Austin after the game.

“He [Austin] was a constant threat. I just wanted to explain what happened with my two-touch free-kick and what the rules were.”

Austin went on to open the scoring in the 21st minute, grabbing his fourth goal in three league games, before Sergio Aguero equalised for City before half-time.

City defender Martin Demichelis’ own goal restored QPR’s lead with under 15 minutes to go but Aguero’s second, his twelfth goal in as many league games, meant the match finished all square.

The reigning champions currently lie third in the table behind Chelsea and Southampton, and manager Manuel Pellegrini is looking forward to a halt in the league proceedings.

“I think the international break has come at exactly the right time for us and the next fortnight will allow us to return to our normal style of play,” said the Chilean.

“Maybe we deserved a little more than we got, but when things aren’t going your way, every shot the opposition takes seems to go in while many of ours do not.”

Chelsea’s 2-1 victory away to last year’s title contenders Liverpool saw them maintain their unbeaten run in the league, having already played City and Manchester United away from home.

“I’m not worried about Chelsea at all,” Pellegrini added.

“They are playing very well but there are a lot of games to go and we will see if they continue to enjoy such a good moment as the weeks go by.

“We are only thinking of ourselves and returning to the way we normally play – that’s all that matters right now.”

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