Men's Team

City v Preston: Pre-season priorities

Manchester City’s pre-season schedule gets under way against Preston North End on Tuesday.

Fifty-nine days after our Champions League final defeat to Chelsea, Pep Guardiola’s side will return to match action when the Championship outfit visit the Academy Stadium for a behind closed doors friendly which will be broadcast live on CITY+.

Here, we take a look at some of the considerations for Guardiola and his players.

Young players

With a host of senior players still on holiday following their EURO 2020 and Copa America exploits, it will be a youthful looking team which takes to the field on Tuesday evening.

We have seen the likes of Shea Charles, Yan Couto and Ben Knight involved in training during the first week back and for them, the Preston game will be a chance to prove their credentials in the first team environment and against seasoned professionals.

At this stage of their careers it seems unlikely they will be fighting for a spot come the opening day of the new campaign, but pre-season friendlies have long been an opportunity for youngsters to impress.

In the summer of 2017, Phil Foden did just that during our tour of the United States and the latest crop of Academy prospects will be hoping they can do the same against a side that finished 13th in the Championship last season.

Foden went on to play 10 times in 2017-18 and Phillippe Sandler, who has been pictured at the City Football Academy this week and has two appearances to his name already, is one player who may be hoping to lay down a marker for his first team credentials.

Minutes in the bank

For the established players, the Preston game will be about building match fitness.

With so many of the squad still to return, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez and Benjamin Mendy could well be relied upon in the opening weeks of the season.

The trio had no international commitments this summer, which means it is two months since they were last in action.

They will no doubt have been required to keep themselves fit during their time off, but working in the gym is a different proposition to playing 90 minutes and this friendly is a chance for them to get their match sharpness back.

Laying the foundations

Guardiola’s inventiveness has been a trademark of his City career.

His tactical ingenuity was a key theme of last season’s title triumph and you would not bet against him having spent the summer trying to think of new ways to outfox his opponents.

With so many first team players absent, the Preston game may not be the ideal time to blood such ideas, but it still presents the boss with the opportunity.

Should he have new thoughts on how best to use his midfielder anchorman, full-backs or wingers, then the visit of Frankie McAvoy’s side will allow him to discuss that with Fernandinho, Mendy and Mahrez and put the building blocks in place for the upcoming campaign.