Manchester City returned to training this weekend after Premier League clubs voted to allow socially-distanced sessions ahead of a potential restart of the season.
City were one of the last Premier League clubs to train after players returned to the City Football Academy on Friday before training sessions resumed on Saturday.
Premier League regulations allow groups of five players to train at a time, with three coaches present and social distance guidelines adhered to at all times. No contact is allowed, so players have been focussing on fitness drills and individual ball work.
After training for the first time in two months, City posted a video showing the players in action at the CFA, with manager Pep Guardiola watching on in full protective gear.
Guardiola will have been buoyed to see all of his injury concerns before the season was suspended in training, as Leroy Sane, Benjamin Mendy and John Stones were part of the group in training.
Here, we look at the talking points from City’s first training session back:
Social distancing in action
City were clearly complying with the Premier League’s social distancing guidelines, with players keeping two metres apart from each other and coaches wearing face masks and gloves.
Manager Pep Guardiola was seen wearing a full tracksuit, mask, blue surgical gloves and a cap as he put his players through their paces. One group of five – Gabriel Jesus, Rodri, Aleks Zinchenko, Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling – were seen completing running drills in a line as Guardiola watched on.
Leroy Sane was close to a return to action before the lockdown was imposed after his long-term injury, so it will be a boost to see the German back as part of the squad who trained. Sane’s future at City continues to dominate the gossip columns both in England and in Germany, but his return for City’s final games of the season in the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League will certainly make them stronger.
Other previous injury worries including John Stones, Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte and Kevin de Bruyne were all spotted in training.
A few City players were allowed to return to their home countries during the lockdown period, and they were given a typical Manchester welcome back as a short but fierce hailstorm greeting them during training.
Bernardo Silva is one player who had returned to Portugal, and has previously spoken about the difference since returning to Manchester.
‘I went to Troia with some friends and it was a lot of fun,” he told Record earlier this month. “We ran, played tennis. Now I’ve been here in Manchester for ten days and I’m sick of it.”
It had to be Bernardo, then, who was part of the group training when the hailstorm hit at the CFA.
Hope for Silva?
David Silva, out of contract next month, reiterated his desire to leave City this summer in an interview last week in search of a new challenge. Reports suggest he will extend his deal until the end of the season, though, in order to help City complete their league and cup campaigns.
Fans might not be able to see Silva play again, with games expected to be played behind-closed-doors when they resume, but the Spaniard was back in training in anticipation of the restart.
His presence will give fans hope that Silva will stay until the end of the season, with the Premier League allowing temporary contract extensions given the unprecedented extension of the season.
City players seen in training:
Benjamin Mendy, Aymeric Laporte, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Aleks Zinchenko, Eric Garcia, Kyle Walker, Joao Cancelo, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Phil Foden, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero.