It may just be an exhibition game on a summer tour, but for the Manchester City players, it’s a crucial game to prove to coach Roberto Mancini that they should be on the 25-man roster for the upcoming season in England.
City plays Italian giant Inter Milan in an exhibition at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday before an expected 35,000.
The English Premier League has instituted a new rule that says clubs can only have 25 players on their senior rosters, which must be named by September 1 - the day after the summer transfer window shuts. This is a major challenge for free-spending Manchester City which currently has 33 senior players on its roster and wants to buy more. City has targeted Inter’s 19-year-old striker Mario Balotelli and James Milner from Aston Villa.
The new rule will mean that City may not have space on its roster for noted players such as Craig Bellamy, Roque Santa Cruz, who joined City for $27 million last summer, and midfielder Stephen Ireland. Former City coach Mark Hughes, who is now out Fulham, would like to bring that trio to Craven Cottage.
The 25-man squad rule also states that eight of the 25 must be ‘home grown’ players, meaning players who have spent at least three years training with an English or Welsh team before they reached the age of 21.
The Inter game is the final stop in Manchester City’s U.S. tour. The Premier League season starts Aug. 14.
Some of the City players, including Shaun Wright-Phillips, Joleon Lescott, Nedum Onuoha and Adam Johnson spent time at the Baltimore Ravens training camp on Friday meeting multiple Pro Bowlers, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Trevor Pryce. City’s 19-year-old Irish defender Greg Cunningham, proved to be the best field-goal kicker on the day, as Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff watched on and applauded.
Last July Chelsea defeated A.C. Milan in front of more than 70,000 fans at the Baltimore venue.
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