Raheem Sterling to make Manchester City debut against Roma

AFP , Monday 20 Jul 2015

England's Raheem Sterling (Photo: Reuters)

Raheem Sterling, the most expensive English footballer in history, will play for his new club Manchester City against AS Roma in Melbourne, manager Manuel Pellegrini said Monday.

The 20-year-old completed his move to the 2014 Premier League champions from Liverpool last week in a five-year deal worth an initial £44million that could rise to £49 million ($76 million).

Sterling will now be seen playing in Manchester City's sky blue shirt for the first time in the International Champions Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

Pellegrini said it was important for his marquee signing, whom he rates as "one of the best attacking players in world football", to get some playing time for his new club ahead of the new English Premier League season next month.

"I think that Raheem worked with Liverpool for three days in the same way as the other international players, so he will play some minutes," Pellegrini told reporters.

"I know him because he played against us for the last two seasons but I think that it is important for him to try to have some minutes with our team as soon as he can.

"I know the way he has played at Liverpool. It's different, of course, when he's working with our squad, but he's a very young player with a lot of ambition and for me that's very important."

The Jamaican-born Londoner assumes the most expensive English footballer mantle from Andy Carroll, who moved from Newcastle to Liverpool for £35 million but never lived up to the tag.

Pellegrini is also expected to give some game time to the club's other new signings, midfielder Fabian Delph, Turkish striker Enes Unal and former England youth international Patrick Roberts either on Tuesday or against Real Madrid in the Melbourne tournament on Friday.

Manchester City warmed up for the ICC tournament with a 1-0 win over Australian sister club Melbourne City with Frenchman Samir Nasri getting a late winner on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Roma beat Real Madrid 7-6 on penalties after the opening ICC game finished scoreless at the MCG on Saturday.

Pellegrini, echoed the concerns of Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez about the state of the MCG pitch which has been heavily used by the Australian Football League for their club matches this season.

"Yes, I am concerned ... we know it is not in the best shape," he said.

"I hope that the pitch will be at least in normal conditions."

The packed off-season schedule for City includes matches in Vietnam and Germany before they return to Manchester but goalkeeper Joe Hart allayed fears there was too much travel involved in their Premier League preparation.

"The manager's had a few pre-seasons in his life so he knows how to prepare a team," he said.

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