Peter Schmeichel says Manuel Pellegrini should back 'special talent' Joe Hart and recall him to his Manchester City Premier League XI this weekend.
The England goalkeeper was dropped at the end of October by the City boss after a number of errors at the start of the season, however, he was recalled for the 4-2 Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen at the Etihad on Wednesday.
Former City keeper Schmeichel says Hart should never have been benched in the first place and should face Swansea on Sunday at the expense of reserve stopper Costel Pantilimon.
"For me you have a very special young man here, someone who is extremely talented and who has done incredibly well in the many years he's been playing for Man City," said Schmeichel, who kept for the club between 2002 and 2003.
"For him to be blamed the way he's been blamed and dropped the way he's been dropped, I feel sorry for him.
"This is the England goalkeeper we're talking about, a goalkeeper who has won the Premier League with Manchester City - it's not just any goalkeeper.
"Pellegrini should have stayed with him because you get through that period. If you play that many games you get through that."
However, Schmeichel fears the media scrutiny on Hart's performances are affecting the 26-year-old.
The Dane said the City keeper was not at fault for either Plzen goal on Wednesday, but reckons Hart's reactions to conceding showed the pressure he is feeling.
"I don't think he had any chance with the goals," he said.
"You look at his body language and he's there and doing well but you can also see he's been hurt.
"He knows in the newspapers it's going to be questioned 'did I play well enough? Am I good enough to be in the Premier League team?'
"The greatest ability a goalkeeper can have is if he makes a mistake it's erased from your mind straight away. The only way that mistake is highlighted or comes back into your mind is if you're being dropped."
Graeme Souness, though, reckons Pantilimon deserved his chance to show what he could do and reckons Hart will emerge a better keeper after being sidelined.
"I don't think Joe Hart will be weaker for the experience, I think he'll bounce back and play for England for many, many years," he said.
"But as a manager looking at your group you've got to say 'I've got to give my other keeper a chance'. Joe Hart didn't cover himself in glory and made mistakes [earlier in the season]."
Reflecting on City's performance as a whole, Shay Given was impressed to see the hosts continue their fine home form - but also paid credit to the visitors who narrowly missed out on taking at least a point from their trip to the Etihad.
"City got the job done in the end but great credit to Plzen," said the former City keeper.
"They had nothing to lose and they came to Manchester and played a great game. City, you felt all along would win the game but they made them work for it.
"City's home form is fantastic, though, with the amount of goals they're scoring, and Pellegrini will be very happy with that."
Is it time for Joe Hart to become Man City's first choice keeper again?