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Atlantic crossing suits City manager Mancini

Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini takes a City squad to the United States today convinced that the club's ground-breaking tour can only benefit the crucial coming campaign.

Manager Mancini has put his players through their paces at the double all week and they even trained before heading for a flight to a Portland, Oregon camp this afternoon.

City will follow an opening game against Portland Timbers with matches against Sporting Lisbon, New York Red Bulls, Club America and finally European champions Inter Milan.

Mancini, excited by City's pioneering venture, said: "The matches, the training, everything in the USA will be important for us. We must prepare very well this month, for sure."

The United States' progress as a football nation was demonstrated by their 1-1 draw with England, topping the group in South Africa, and Landon Donovan's impact at world level.

So the Blues boss knows games against Portland and New York will not be easy, but his mind will stray ahead to the Baltimore showdown that brings down the curtain on July 31.

He says: "Inter is a good game for me, because I will meet a team where I worked for four years and won many trophies. But it will be important because I want to see how we play against the team that won the Champions League."

A clutch of City stars, including England trio Gareth Barry, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joe Hart, are due to link up with the tour later following their delayed holidays.

Mancini admitted: "It is a problem, but after a World Cup it is also very important that the players recover very well, because they will be very tired and it is a long season."

City's boss believes England could benefit from a mid-winter break: "In my opinion, England have the best coach possible. Fabio is creating the basis for a solid team.

"The problem is not that, but another one - in England, you play too much. In the years of European Championships and World Cups, you need a winter break to catch your breath."

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