This summer’s new arrivals have had to raise their game to cope with the intensity of an average City training session, according to Nedum Onuoha.
With strikers the calibre of Emmanuel Adebayor and Carlos Tevez now vying for a place in the Blues’s starting eleven, defenders like the 22-year-old, who recently inked in a new five year contract, will have their work cut out to impress Mark Hughes.
The two forwards already mentioned both scored against City last season, so while pleased that they are all now on the same side, Nedum declares that they and other recent purchases have had had to adjust themselves to the way things are done at the Carrington training ground.
“Training has always been intense at this place with this manager, I think the new players have possibly had to raise their intensity levels from where they have been before because we set such high standards. Anyone coming in has to be able to match what we do, the new players that have come in have made it a bit more technical but the intensity has always been there.
“As a defender you sometimes wonder why you chose that position because you come up against such good players!” laughed Nedum. “It can be tough, but if I am going to learn it’s going to be out on the training pitch, because you might as well do it with the best of the best. “
The additions to the squad lend it a battle-hardened edge with plenty of experience in the Barclays Premier League, with Gareth Barry’s 12 years at Villa being just one example that Nedum picks up on.
“The players that have come in this year have already spent a lot of time in the English league, so as well as them we have the lads that came here last season who already understand this league a bit more. People like Gareth have been in this league for a long time, and they know what it takes to be successful.”
A slight thigh strain kept Nedum out of City’s final two pre-season friendlies, but he is confident that he will be available for the curtain-raiser at Ewood Park on Saturday. International calls have bitten deep into the City squad in the early part of the week, although Nedum cannot now be considered for the England Under 21 side, which he represented for the final time at this summer’s European Championships.
The 22-year-old is looking to use the time before the majority if the squad return to his advantage, in the hope that he can give his manager a selection headache when he considers his defensive options.
He added: “There are only six or seven first teamers in training at the moment. It’s a bit difficult because you are trying to focus on the game this Saturday, but you can’t work on any team shape. As soon as they are back on Thursday, that will be the first thing that we do.
“I just need to be ready come Thursday and Friday, because the lads coming back from international duty will be more match fit than the others. They will have had some big games in them, so I’ll have to make sure I can compete with them.”