Jason Denayer is hoping for a big season with City after a solid first 12 months in sky blue.
The 19-year-old Belgian centre-half – one of three Belgians playing in that position at City – is aiming to kick on again after impressing in the EDS during the 2013/14 season and believes the pre-season training camp at St Andrews is the perfect way to start the new campaign.
Like many of the EDS players in Scotland, Denayer learned of his inclusion fairly late in the day, but was delighted to have the opportunity to test himself against some of the best attacking talents in Europe.
“When I returned off my holiday I was told I would be training with the first-team to begin with and I asked if I would be then training with the EDS when the senior squad left for Scotland, but I was told I would be joining them for pre-season which was great for me,” he said.
“Training is very fast with a high intensity but I feel I’ve built my fitness up really quickly because you have to keep up with players like Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic who are powerful and very clever.
I think I have done well because sometimes I win the ball, sometimes they do, but I’m learning all the time and taking a lot out of training
“I enjoyed the run-out against Dundee because I was playing alongside Dedryck Boyata, who is obviously a fellow Belgian and someone I know well. He helped me a lot as did Aleksandar Kolarov and it was enjoyable to be part of it all.”
Denayer, a calm, classy centre-back, who penned a deal until 2016 when he joined the club last year, admits it took time to adjust to a different style of football and English culture in general.
It was the first time he’d been far from his family, but he soon began to feel at home and now feels completely settled in Manchester.
“It wasn’t easy to begin with but I feel I’ve settled well over the past year and everything is good now,” he said.
It’s good that Vincent Kompany is here because not only is he our national team captain, but he’s captain here at City too, and he is someone I really look up to
“He speaks to me a lot and if he sees something in training he thinks I can do better, he always lets me know – and he also lets me know if I do something well, too, which is really important. I want to learn as much as I can from him and the rest of the first-team squad.
“As for the coming season, ideally I would like to train with the first-team as much as possible and maybe be involved in one or two cup games this season. If I can play more for the Belgium Under-21s as well, it will have been a very good year for me.”