Pep Guardiola could give his biggest indication yet over which players he plans to use in the Community Shield versus Leicester next week when his Manchester City side face Blackpool tonight.
City arranged this friendly at short notice in order to boost their fitness ahead of the Community Shield clash, following two comfortable pre-season wins over Preston and Barnsley.
Blackpool are the third Championship opponent in a week, and Guardiola should give more senior players some much-needed game time ahead of the season opener next week.
He was further boosted by the return of Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri and Bernardo Silva on Monday, although they might not play much of a part with just a day of training behind them.
The friendly could be the final chance for youngsters like Ben Knight, Sam Edozie and James McAtee to impress Guardiola, who might give his first team even more time ahead of next week’s trip to Wembley.
Read how our writers think City should line up tonight and use the interactive team selector to pick your best starting 11:
The back five should remain the same as it has for the last two friendlies, and they should line up at Wembley next week. Fernandinho should also get another start, with Ilkay Gundogan able to build on his cameo against Barnsley with some more minutes tonight.
Kevin De Bruyne shouldn’t be rushed back, so I’d give Tommy Doyle a chance to impress in that final midfield spot. In attack, Riyad Mahrez is an obvious pick, and the other two places should go to the best youngsters of pre-season so far.
That means Sam Edozie and Ben Knight should complete the starting XI, with Cole Palmer, Bernardo and Morgan Rogers able to come off the bench.
Pick your best team here:
Guardiola and his fellow Premier League managers have been presented with an unenviable situation during this summer in particular – partly brought about by Euro 2020 and also by a delayed end to the 2020/2021 campaign; a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
With that in mind, while the Spaniard won’t want to rush key players back, it’s crucial that as many of his first-team as possible are given minutes ahead of the big-kick off vs Tottenham.
Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gundogan should return to the starting line-up.
Of course, the impending Community Shield showdown with FA Cup winners Leicester City will help – but tonight marks a chance for Zinchenko, Rodri, Gundogan and Bernardo to up their sharpness; even for 45 or 60 minutes.