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FIVE Things We Spotted in Man City Training Ahead of Chelsea Clash

Manchester City are gearing up to return to Premier League action this weekend, following their midweek demolition job of Wycombe in the Carabao Cup, and here are a few things we noticed from the pre-match training photos!

Pep Guardiola's side will be looking to bounce back from their last outing in the English top-flight, when they were held to a disappointing 0-0 home draw with Southampton last weekend.

Up next is the challenge of Thomas Tuchel - a challenge that Pep Guardiola has so far failed to beat, falling to defeat in all three previous meetings against the German manager's Chelsea side in the Premier League, FA Cup semi-final, and Champions League final.

This time around, the opposition is even stronger, after the Chelsea hierarchy added Romelu Lukaku to their squad during the summer window - in a position that Etihad officials failed to strengthen following the departure of Sergio Aguero.

Ahead of the early kick-off on Saturday afternoon, here are FIVE things we noticed from the released training photographs on Manchester City's social channels this week!

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1. A TRIPLE fitness boost for the Blues

Following on from reports on Wednesday afternoon that claimed the defensive duo of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte could be facing up to two weeks out of action, there was a slightly sombre mood among Manchester City supporters.

However, a huge offering of encouragement was provided by the club the following day, as both central defenders were spotted in training ahead of the weekend's trip to Chelsea.

While it does remain unlikely that both players could be available to start for Pep Guardiola's side at Stamford Bridge, their respective recoveries are well underway and the previously mentioned timeframe may just be wide of the mark.

Perfect timing, given the challenge of consecutive away trips to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, and Liverpool.

2. Nathan Ake back in contention

Following his midweek absence in the Carabao Cup against Wycombe Wanderers, Nathan Ake has put himself back in contention for a starting berth against Thomas Tuchel's side after a period away through compassionate leave.

The Dutchman has seen himself receive more game-time than he probably would have expected going into the campaign, largely due to the absence of John Stones and the strength of Aymeric Laporte's performances.

But with the aforementioned duo still in some sort of doubt over their availability for the weekend, the return of Nathan Ake will be a timely boost for Pep Guardiola and his selection dilemmas for the weekend.

(Photo via Manchester City)

(Photo via Manchester City)

3. A triple threat for the weekend?

After the 6-1 win against Wycombe in the Carabao Cup third round in midweek, one thing was made clear to Manchester City supporters: Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden are well and truly back.

But their return is even more exciting than any other season, as they'll be complimented by potentially playing in the same team as Jack Grealish - and the trio were hard at work with smiles on their faces during Thursday's training.

City fans have already been treated to the brilliance of all three men on separate occasions this season so far, but the prospect of the trio featuring in the same starting XI could be deemed unfair by some supporters - such is their respective talent.

4. Rodrigo Returns.

The injury and fitness boosts just keep coming don't they?!

Earlier in the week, you wouldn't be alone in thinking that Manchester City were surely in for a torrid time over the next three games in particular, as a whole host of crucial names were deemed to be injured or unfit for the Carabao Cup clash.

However, the latest released photos from training courtesy of Manchester City not only highlight the return or advanced recovery of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, but also indicate that defensive midfielder Rodri is back in contention.

The Spaniard is becoming an increasingly crucial figure for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola's tactical set-up, and with age not being on the side of Fernandinho any more, the former Atletico Madrid man's importance to the squad will only become greater in the coming weeks.

(Photo via Manchester City)

(Photo via Manchester City)

5. Laughs and smiles with Bernardo

Given that the Portuguese midfielder was deemed to be unhappy with life in Manchester and was reportedly seeking a move away from the Premier League champions, his start to the new season has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air.

The spirits were certainly high in training this week too, as Bernardo Silva was captured joking with manager Pep Guardiola at the City Football Academy - which can surely only be a good thing as we head deeper into the campaign.

Despite the signing of Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva has gone from strength to strength this campaign so far, and his importance to the squad was only shown even further through his match-winning performance against Leicester City a fortnight ago.


You can follow Freddie on Twitter here: @FreddiePye_

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