Men's Team

Fernandinho, Mahrez and Dias start against Preston

Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez and Ruben Dias all start for Manchester City in tonight’s opening pre-season friendly at home to Preston North End.

Manager Pep Guardiola has selected a starting eleven that blends youth alongside experience as we play host to the Championship side at the Academy Stadium.

Goalkeeper Zack Steffen and defensive trio Joao Cancelo, Nathan Ake and Benjamin Mendy also feature.

With several members of the first team squad still away on their summer break following their exertions at Euro 2020 and the Copa America, a number of younger players are also afforded vital first team experience.


Iker Pozo, Morgan Rogers, Ben Knight and Cole Palmer are all handed the opportunity to impress against our visitors from Deepdale for a game that, due to COVID-19 safety precautions, will be played behind closed doors.


CITY X1: Steffen, Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Mendy, Fernandinho, Pozo, Rogers, Knight, Palmer, Mahrez

Subs: Slicker; Sandler; Roberts; Couto; Moreno; Edozie; Egan Riley; Charles; Smith; Bolton; Gomes; McAtee; Hamilton; Burns

PRESTON: Ripley, Van Den Berg, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, Earl, Ledson, Whiteman, Potts, Barkhuizen, Evans

Subs: Hudson, Bauer, Rafferty, Cunningham, Bayliss, Browne, Leigh, Harrop, Sinclair, Thomas, Walker, Maguire, Riis


Pep Guardiola is likely to deploy the tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation that has served us so well in recent years.

With Steffen in goal, there will be familiar look to the back four with Cancelo and Mendy deployed as full-backs and Dias and Ake forming the central defensive axis.

Skipper Fernandinho, fresh from signing his one-year contract extension in the summer, will be the midfield defensive shield with Pozo and Knight also set to be in the engine room.


Riyad Mahrez will provide the experience upfront with Cole Palmer, who also penned a new contract extension earlier this summer, and Morgan Rogers – who shone on loan at Lincoln City last term – likely to be alongside the Algerian upfront.

However, pre-season friendlies afford the ideal opportunity to try out tactical variations.

And such is the technical quality of City’s squad, the players will be more than comfortable adopting to a different set-up should the need arise.

It should also be a real test for the City players with North End having already played a number of pre-season friendlies as Frankie McAvoy’s side build up ahead of the start of the Championship campaign.

A chance to shine

Pre-season friendlies have long been an opportunity for youngsters to impress.

In the summer of 2017, Phil Foden made a huge impression on our tour of the United States and the likes of Pozo, Knight and Rogers will be out to make their own mark tonight.

With a crop of promising young talent also named on the bench there could also be opportunities for several more Academy prospects to also catch the eye as the game progresses.

Key stats

• City have faced Preston in 94 competitive fixtures. (W43, D18, L33).
• City have won each of our last three games against Preston: 3-0 in the League Cup third round in 2019, 3-1 in the FA Cup fifth round in 2007 and 3-2 in Division in 2002.
• Preston have three former City players in their ranks: Greg Cunningham: Made five appearances in 2010; Ched Evans: Made 26 appearances, scoring once goal between 2007-2010; Scott Sinclair: Made 19 appearances between 2012-2015.
• Preston finished 13th in the Championship in 2019-20.