Richard Dunne believes that City have missed out on some crucial preparation time on the training field due to the hectic schedule of the 2020/21 campaign so far.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past eight months, the subsequent late start to the new season and our involvement in the Champions League, has meant the games have been coming thick and fast for Pep Guardiola’s squad.

With Carabao Cup fixtures also added into the schedule, it means City have been playing three games a week since we got back under way on September 21, limiting the time and scope for work for Pep Guardiola and his players on the training field.

Despite the relentless schedule, City have made a highly promising start to the campaign, losing just one of our 12 games to date across all competitions.

But, speaking on the latest edition of our live matchday show We’re Not Really Here, former City central defender Dunne said that having to sandwich so many matches into such a short space of time came at the expense of valuable time on the training field.

“I know people say footballers prefer matches over training, but you need training,” the former City and Republic of Ireland skipper declared.

“And even now as the season is progressing, you’re not getting the time on the training field - everything’s either a game or travel.

VITAL WORK: But Pep Guardiola's time with his players on the training field has been limited due to the busy fixture schedule
VITAL WORK: But Pep Guardiola's time with his players on the training field has been limited due to the busy fixture schedule

“Players need training.

“If over the course of the last six weeks they have had maybe 20 sessions, that’s not what it would normally be (at this stage of the season).

“You’re catching up the whole time and the more games they play they’ll feel it in their legs more but, train hard to play easy - that’s more what it should be.”

Dunne’s point about the crucial role training plays in both tactical preparation and technical development was echoed by Shaun Goater, who was a fellow guest on Sunday’s latest We’re Not Really Here show.

And the former City striker pointed to the way Raheem Sterling has only developed and blossomed under the guidance of manager Pep Guardiola and their work together on the CFA training pitch.

“We’ve seen the rise in Raheem Sterling and after games how Pep gets his arm around him,” Goater opined.

“You know it’s important that Pep has time on the training field with these players.

“Ferran Torres is another person that he’d love to have more time with.

“Pre-season is so important too. You have hours training, gaining an understanding that ‘OK if things don’t go well then you go to this system and adjust’.

“Then during games, if you need to adjust, it’s fluid.

“Pep is that way, you know he gets into players and gives them that fine detail.”