Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart needs the support of the nation, according to one of his former coaches, Eric Steele.

Steele, who worked closely with David de Gea at Manchester United until Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of last season, was Hart's coach at the Etihad Stadium from 2007 to 2008 - and he believes England's No. 1 will be "hurting inside greatly and desperately disappointed" after a difficult start to the campaign.

Hart's stoppage-time mistake cost Manchester City a valuable point against rival title challengers Chelsea on Sunday, leading to speculation that the 26-year-old will be dropped for Saturday's Premier League clash against Norwich City.

However, Steele has been told by Hart that he is desperate to make amends - and the current Derby County goalkeeper coach firmly believes he should be given the opportunity to turn his performances around.

"Now is the time for Manchester City and the nation to get behind him," Steele wrote in a column on the Telegraph's website. "I’ve spoken to him since Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge and he is absolutely desperate to get back out there and nobody wants to put things right more than Joe.

"We are a nation that knocks people down but we’ve got to get around him – that means his manager at City, the coaching staff and he needs support from within the football club."

Steele feels that Hart is strong enough to get through this troublesome spell, but believes it's in the nation's best interests to also get behind him with the 2014 World Cup finals on the horizon.

"This is a big seven or eight months for Joe, with the World Cup next summer, and we need him to be recovering from this dip and showing everyone he’s still in the best in the country," Steele added.

"I’m absolutely backing him to the hilt."

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