Man City squad jet off to Abu Dhabi - which players travelled & will they play a friendly there?

We have all the latest information on Manchester City as they begin their preparations for the return of club football later this month.
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Manchester City’s squad have flown to Abu Dhabi as they begin preparations for the second part of the 2022/23 season.

The Blues ended the pre-World Cup section of the campaign with a shock 2-1 loss to Brentford on 12 November and currently trail top-of-the-table Arsenal by five points. City also remain in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League.

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Speaking after that defeat to Brentford, Pep Guardiola confirmed his side would regroup on 5 December and fly immediately to Abu Dhabi, with the team returning to Manchester on 12 December. The City squad have since flown to the Middle East despite most of the team currently at the World Cup in Qatar.

Indeed, 16 of Guardiola’s squad were named in the World Cup rosters last month, with only two, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne, departing early after Germany and Belgium surprisingly crashed out at the group stage. However, at least one player will be eliminated in the last-16 phase with Portugal facing Switzerland on Tuesday, pitting Manuel Akanji against Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva.

There are no plans for Gundogan or De Bruyne to meet up with the City squad in Abu Dhabi, instead, they will return to club action next week. It means the group that travelled on Monday was light on first-team stars, with Stefan Ortega Moreno, Scott Carson, Rico Lewis, Sergio Gomez, Riyad Mahez, Cole Palmer and Erling Haaland among the 19-man squad, which was supplemented with youth-team players.

City do not plan to play a friendly game in Abu Dhabi and instead see it as an opportunity for the players to enjoy some warm-weather training.

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The Premier League champions return to competitive action on 22 December when they host Liverpool in a Carabao Cup encounter, while the club’s next Premier League fixture takes place on 28 December at 8pm against Leeds United.

Since last playing, Guardiola has signed a new contract with the club which runs to 2023. City have also been paired with Chelsea in the FA Cup third round and have had their fixture lists for January and February confirmed.