EPL: Guardiola delighted with Man City fitness

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is delighted with the fitness of his players as the Premier League nears a return, with clubs expected to give the go-ahead to the introduction of phase two of training on Wednesday.

If phase two is agreed, there are hopes that a return to competition could be agreed by the end of the week as champions City trail leaders Liverpool by 25 points, with the Reds likely to win their first top-flight title since 1990.

City, who have 10 games remaining, returned to training last week for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak in March, which froze football in England and across the world.

Guardiola, who led City to a domestic treble last season, told the club's website that his players "came back perfectly".

"Yeah, really good," he said about his squad's fitness. "I think they were looking forward to coming back and to train again and do what they like.

"They came back perfectly. We follow the rules, the protocol. We have to. That's the most important thing. We don't do anything special."

The Spaniard also took the opportunity to praise key workers during the ongoing pandemic, while insisting football fans must remain patient ahead of a potential return to top-flight action.

"The special ones are the doctors, nurses, scientists, cleaners - they put their own lives at risk to save ours," he added.

"When it's a special situation around the world, you have to adapt. I think all the fans around the world are waiting to watch football. We want to come back but now the priority is other things.

"It [the message] is still 'stay safe, be careful, and when everything is possible we will come back'. First, I think without them, but hopefully we come back to a routine.

"But now the most important thing is to follow the instructions. If they say use a mask, stay at home, social distance... we have to do it. Because there are many, many people in the NHS who put their own lives at risk to save ours."

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