Men's Team

Pep to assess fitness of returning stars as squad nears full strength

Pep to assess fitness of returning stars as squad nears full strength
Pep Guardiola says he’ll assess the condition of each of our returning internationals on an individual basis ahead of Sunday’s Premier League curtain-raiser against Tottenham.

City open our title defence away to Spurs on Sunday 15 August, and our squad will once again be at full strength from Monday when our Brazilian and English internationals return from a prolonged pre-season break.

Ederson and Gabriel Jesus were both part of the Selecao squad which finished as runners-up at the Copa America, while Kyle Walker, John Stones, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling all starred as the Three Lions reached a first major international final in 55 years at Euro 2020.

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While Foden continues to work his way back to fitness from a foot injury sustained on international duty, the boss didn’t rule out an immediate return to action for any of our other late arrivals.

However, Guardiola qualified that there was no blanket rule for how swiftly a player is able to reacclimatise to the rigours of Premier League football following the summer rest period.

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“A few players get their condition so quick. Others need a little bit more time,” he declared following our Community Shield defeat to Leicester City.

“We will see the weight and body fat, how they arrive and especially their heads.

“There are players that play after just three, four or five days and the mentality is positive and ready to fight and suffer in the bad conditions.

“But some of them need more time, we will try to discover which are ready immediately, it’s simple.”

The boss also confirmed that Aymeric Laporte will return to the fold slightly later than his teammates after someone who was on a flight with the defender tested positive for coronavirus.

Guardiola stressed that the Spanish international had tested negative but, in line with COVID-19 isolation protocol, his return to the City Football Academy has been briefly delayed.

He declared: “He’s tested negative but he travelled on a flight with more than 100 people and one person on this flight was positive.

“The rules right now are that he has to be at home for eight days. He has been at home for four or five days, that’s why he has not come back yet.”

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