Delap, Steffen, Doyle and Nmecha all to start - Predicted Team: Man City vs Bournemouth (Carabao Cup Third Round)
With incredible fixture congestion foreseen for pretty much the entire campaign, rotation is expected to be heavier than ever in Manchester City's fourth most valued competition.
With Pep Guardiola claiming on Monday night that this match will mostly feature academy prospects, here's how we predict City will line up - and please bear in mind, this could be way off...
Plenty of first-teamers are still out injured or in isolation, including Sergio Agüero, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Oleks Zinchenko. Aymeric Laporte isn't expected to be back in time for this one, although Eric García might - even amidst a seemingly imminent move to Barcelona.
In goal, it's a relief to have at least one position where I can be fairly confident. Zack Steffen will start against the Cherries, marking a Manchester City debut for the USA international.
After that, things get a little bit trickier. I think we'll see Taylor Harwood-Bellis start alongside Nicolas Otamendi, in what could be a final ever Manchester City appearance for the General; who is being linked with moves to the likes of Inter, Porto and Lazio.
Nathan Aké should have no problems filling in at left-back against his former side, but I don't know if he'll play the full game, especially with a tough test against Leicester on the horizon this weekend! On the right side of the defence, I wouldn't be surprised to see Alpha Dionkou - the academy man who's catching the eye at youth level.
Something tells me that Rodri will be one of the few first-team regulars to start this game, in an attempt to keep some experience in midfield. Ahead of him, I expect to see Tommy Doyle, who made some promising appearances last season and recently signed a long-term deal with the Etihad club. Felix Nmecha could also start this one, possibly ahead of Adrian Bernabe.
The front three is a bit easier to guess. I'm among the camp that thinks Liam Delap will lead the line, which will be extremely exciting if true. On the wing, Ferran Torres is likely to make his full debut, while Riyad Mahrez should be given a start on the right, unless Pep Guardiola plans to use him against Leicester on Sunday following his success against the Foxes last season.
Overall, I don't think the line-up will be as youth-oriented as some are suggesting, although I recognise that only three or four of the team I've just named are nailed-on starters. The bench could be any assortment of youngsters and first team players, but I'll guess at: Scott Carson, Eric García, Fernandinho, Aymeric Laporte, Adrián Bernabé, Cole Palmer and Gabriel Jesus.
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