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The new options available to Pep Guardiola at Man City

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When the Premier League confirmed that clubs could return to training this week, it gave Manchester City the green light to start thinking about a return to some kind of normality.

There will be social distancing rules, with only five players training at a time, and no contact allowed, but Pep Guardiola will be allowed to see how his players have been getting on fitness-wise over the last two months.

John Stones has already revealed his daily gym sessions aimed at improving his basic fitness, while players like Nicolas Otamendi have been posting regular updates on social media of their workouts. Given this is a squad full of professional athletes at the top of their games, keeping up their fitness should be the minimum expectation.

But there is nothing like getting back on the training pitch, and City are expected to join other Premier League sides in resuming training soon. When they do, Guardiola will be buoyed by having more options available to him than he had before the season was suspended.

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Firstly, Leroy Sane should be ready to train fully, after a number of weeks back at the CFA at the start of the year following his long-term injury but without making his return for the first team. Other injury concerns like Benjamin Mendy should also have recovered.

Then there are the options from the academy, whose season at under-23 level and below has been curtailed.

Eric Garcia, Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Tommy Doyle have all featured for the first team this season and should be included in Guardiola's plans for the final ten games of the season. With the Champions League and FA Cup the priority for City among what is set to be a packed Premier League schedule, their availability could prove very useful.

Behind those three youngsters, the cancelled academy season will provide more talent for Guardiola, if he wants it.

Adrian Bernabe is familiar with the first team setup and impressed on the pre-season tour last summer. He has four Carabao Cup appearances for City and would not be a bad option for Guardiola off the bench if required. Behind Bernabe, in the Under-18s, is Jayden Braaf - the talented Dutch winger who has caught the eye with some fine performances in the academy this season.

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Felix Nmecha, Morgan Rogers and Liam Delap have been in dangerous form in front of goal this season, too. While they are unlikely to displace Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, they could push the senior strikers and effectively audition for more first-team action next season.

Guardiola will need his entire squad available when football returns given the unprecedented fixture schedule that is likely to present itself. With a talented group of youngsters to add to his group, the City boss will have more options than he has ever had before.




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