6 October 2014 07:22
David Villa believes he will be ready for the opening round of the A-League, while Melbourne City coach John van ‘t Schip is also confident.
Van ‘t Schip declared Villa looked “really sharp” at his first training session with City on Monday and gave the strongest hints yet that the 32-year-old will make his debut away to Sydney FC on Saturday.
The Spanish striker has been training with a group of players at parent club New York City for the past month and appears set to play a part at Allianz Stadium in just five days’ time.
“I feel good, I feel prepared,” Villa said via a translator.
“I’ve been working hard. I obviously had a break [after the World Cup], my last game was the Spain-Australia game but then I took the usual summer break that every player takes.
“But I’ve been working hard and I’ve been training to be ready and I hope to be ready for the game.”
Van ‘t Schip has been reticent to commit to any timeline in regards to Villa’s potential debut for City throughout the pre-season but, at the Spaniard’s unveiling, the Dutch coach made his most convincing statement yet that Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer will debut in the first round.
Following his commitments with Spain at the World Cup at the end of June, Villa took a break before starting his pre-season preparation with New York City’s strength and conditioning coach.
And since the early part of September, Villa has been involved in small group sessions with New York City coach Jason Kreis and that preparation appears to have paid off.
“This morning he looked already really sharp and fresh,” Van ‘t Schip said.
Villa insisted he did not need to arrive any earlier in Melbourne due to the “constant communication” between all parties involved in the City Football Group, who own Manchester City, New York City and Melbourne City.
“This is not something we started doing last week, it’s been going for months and, well, I have a week ahead to get acquainted better,” the former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid striker said.
But it remains clear that Villa’s involvement in the A-League over his 10-game stint will not simply be decided by Van ‘t Schip with New York City set to keep a keen eye on their prize investment.
“The most important thing, it all has to work out for everybody in a good way,” Van ‘t Schip said.
“If David is fit and feeling good – and of course, we’ll have communication with each other – then it’s normal he’s going to be playing a big part in the games that we can have him.
“But just now to say whether if I’m going to put him in the [starting] line-up or on the bench [against Sydney] … if we put him on the bench we’ll have a reason and the most important thing is that it’s going to be a good thing for all of us.”