Champions Manchester City will begin their preparations for the return of the Premier League in Abu Dhabi.
Pep Guardiola and a mixture of first team players and young hopefuls will land in the capital on Monday evening and will take part in five days of warm-weather training.
It’s a quick return to the nation’s capital for manager Guardiola who signed a new two-year contract while in town for the recent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
A relaxed Guardiola tried his hand on the Yas Marina Circuit as a passenger with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and also played some golf in a charity pro-am alongside Formula One driver Lando Norris and golfer Tommy Fleetwood - a long-standing friend.
Among those in the training party will be superstar Erling Haaland and fellow international Riyad Mahrez, whose Norway and Algeria teams failed to make the World Cup in Qatar.
Senior pros Scott Carson, Stefan Ortega, Sergio Gomez, and Cole Palmer will also be in the party and among those looking to further impress the manager ahead of the big domestic restart will be Rico Lewis. The 18-year-old defender has already made three appearances this season and could be in line for more action in the early part of the resumption.
Despite their shock early departures from the group stages of the World Cup, Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium) and Ilkay Gundogan (Germany) will be given some time off before returning to training once City are back in their Manchester headquarters.
City return to action with a blockbuster League Cup tie against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on December 22 when both sides are expected to be mix and match and considerably below strength.
The Premier League action commences for Guardiola’s men with a short trip to Leeds United on Wednesday, December 28.
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Guardiola admits he has little idea who might be fit, firing and available for those games and the home match against Everton on December 31 that completes 2022.
“It's better not to think about it,” he said. "If we don't have our international players, then, okay, go with the academy - or with some physios! In Germany, their first game after the World Cup is January 20 - we start on December 22. We will have to wait and see at what stage players leave the tournament, how much they have played and how much rest they need. We will have a lot of games to play in a short space of time.”
City had sixteen players in Qatar - only Bayern Munich had more - considerably more than title rivals Arsenal (10) and Liverpool (7).
Whatever team he puts out at Leeds in the first Premier League game back, Guardiola and many of his players will be happy that his future for the next two seasons after this is sorted and the City boss is certainly not resting on any laurels.
“I have a feeling we can still do better,” he declared. “This is the reason I want to do more - the job is not done. We want more and I want more.”