Isaksson rewarded with rare start

Last updated : 10 May 2008 By Ben Collins
The Sweden international has spent most of the season on the bench after Sven-Goran Eriksson made youngster Joe Hart his first-choice.

And Isaksson hasn't had a glimmer of a recall as Hart has vindicated that decision with a string of superb performances that have seen him secure the club's Young Player of the Year award and be tipped for an England call-up.

Isaksson's status as Sweden's first-choice keeper has been put under threat ahead of Euro 2008 due to his lack of first-team opportunities at City, making just 5 appearances this season.

But the 26-year-old, who last played for City in December's 4-2 win over Bolton, has been the consummate professional despite being stuck on the sidelines.

"Isaksson is in goal on Sunday," confirmed Eriksson.

"It's not because Joe Hart had been behaving badly - on or off the pitch - it's only that I want to give Isaksson the chance to play the last game.

"I think he's been absolutely fantastic - a super professional."

Richard Dunne suffered no adverse reaction on his return from injury in last week's 1-0 defeat at Liverpool, but there will be no return this season for Valeri Bojinov or Micah Richards.

Despite the speculation surrounding Eriksson's future as City boss, he insists the Blues are aiming to finish on a high.

"There's been speculation for more than just this week," he said. "The boys have been working hard and we want to finish the season well with a good performance at Middlesbrough.

"It's important that we focus on Sunday, we will take a lot of fans, as we have done all season, and I want to put on a good show for them at the end of the season. They were fantastic last weekend and I want us to reward them at Middlesbrough.

"I believe this has been a successful season," Sven added. "We bought a lot of new players before the start and I know we've not played perfectly at times, but we played well in many games.

"This is a new team, a young team, we are in the right part of the table and we could finish 8th so I'm pleased."