Benjamin Mendy, Riyad Mahrez And Fernandinho All Feature! - Predicted Team: Man City Vs Preston North End (Pre-Season)

Here we go again: Another season of thrills, spills and hopefully more silverware!
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With a heavily disrupted pre-season period, the Championship opposition are Pep Guardiola's first and only game to assess what he's got before the Community Shield clash with Leicester City next month.

Added to the majority of the team not returning to training as of yet, large parts of the City Football Academy have been closed over the past 10 days due to a COVID-19 outbreak - meaning the likes of Tommy Doyle, Cole Palmer, and Liam Delap have had to spend this period in isolation.

So, for the first time this season, we're going to try and predict how Pep Guardiola could set up with the squad he has at his disposal...

The manager has three options in goal.

18 year-old Cieran Slicker, Zack Steffen - who returned to training on Monday - or Scott Carson, who has recently joined the club on a permanent basis. After earning his first Premier League appearance last season, we expect the latter to start on Tuesday evening. 

At right-back, after training within the first-team set-up since the squad and coaching staff returned to their day-to-day routines, we expect Yan Couto to earn his first start for Manchester City.

Left-back is a lot easier.

Benjamin Mendy has been in full training for two weeks now, so the Frenchman will be crucial in commanding a relatively inexperienced and unfamiliar backline.

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At centre-back, the only player who has been around the squad on a full time basis has been Phillippe Sandler - so he is very likely to be involved. 

His partner is a complete guessing game, but from small involvements in previous match-day squads, Luke Mbete must be someone the manager rates highly and I can see him being given a run out.

In front of the backline, we will surely see the ageless captain Fernandinho - who recently extended his contract for a further year. The Brazilian will be making it nine vintage years in blue this season, as he looks to get his hands on even more silverware. 

With limited options, it looks like a lot of the academy stars could be thrown straight back in without much training at all. 

So, I'm guessing Tommy Doyle will start in the middle alongside Ben Knight - who has been training with the first team squad for a little while longer.

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The only certainty in the front three is Riyad Mahrez.

The Algerian international was one of Manchester City's most important players last season, and will be looking to carry the form into the new campaign after a well-earned summer rest.

On the left, I think Cole Palmer is a player Pep Guardiola admires - and after recently signing a new long-term contract, I can see the youngster featuring even more in the first team.

Up-front it's a choice between Liam Delap and Pablo Moreno.

I've opted for the latter again purely for fitness purposes. Despite probably going back out on loan next season, the Spaniard has had a full two weeks of training in the build up to this game.

Substitutes: Steffen, Slicker; Charles, Ake, Dias, Cancelo, Burns; Smith, Roberts, Pozo, Hamilton; Rogers.

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