Bristol City players with a point to prove in pre-season as Nigel Pearson runs the rule

The next four weeks of pre-season could decide the futures of a few Bristol City players

Bristol City have had a gruelling warm-weather training camp out in Central Europe this week.

Players have gone through double training sessions, whilst also being given the opportunity to cycle around their base.

No game abroad has been played and instead, this has acted as a team-building exercise to prepare them for the gruelling 46-game slog from the end of July to early May.

The travelling squad has included some young players like Duncan Idehen, Ryley Towler and Seb Palmer-Houlden who will either stay put and fight for their place or be sent out on loan.

Pre-season is the best opportunity to shape how a manager uses you for the upcoming season. The manager already knows the strengths and weaknesses of most of his players but the opinion can change in how the players have come back with their attitude and physique.

Here we look at a few players that will need to come out with a good pre-season if they are to be a part of City this season.

Advertisement

Cameron Pring

At the age of 23 before turning 24, Pring finally made his breakthrough into the City team in something that was nine years in the making. In total, he had eight loan spells ranging from the non-league to League One before being given a chance by Nigel Pearson.

He turned out 32 times last year which is just 14 games shy of a whole season. Pring is predominantly a left-back but was also tried in a back three as a left-sided centre-back and was keeping Jay Dasilva out of the side.

Dasilva though managed to muscle his way back into the side and for the last six games of the season, was either an unused substitute or not included in the match-day squad. It is likely that he could be kept around as a backup option to provide some depth should Dasilva be needed elsewhere in the defence or if he gets injured. For Pring, it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches his second season in the Championship, he has a deal until 2024 so the club believe strongly in him.

George Tanner

City fans clamoured for the signing of Kane Wilson and out of the three signings given Naismith’s quiet reveal, is probably the most demanded player.

Advertisement

That is probably down to not having a recognised right-back or wing-back for the majority of last year. Initially, that was meant to be George Tanner’s role, but he had a difficult first year, plagued by injuries.

The 22-year-old ended up playing 13 times last year but went from not playing a game for five months as was given a 36-minute cameo against Huddersfield Town on the final day.

Tanner will want to put that season behind him now as for a player making the step up two divisions, playing a quarter of the season is at least a good platform to build on.

This summer can act as a clean slate for him and he’ll get the opportunity to impress Pearson in the upcoming games at the High Performance Centre.

Both Joe Williams and Nathan Baker had difficult seasons due to injury

Joe Williams

Advertisement

Williams turned out 22 times for City last season but at times it didn’t feel like that. A recurring problem with hamstring injuries meant he would miss long periods and it is something that City have tried to rectify.

The 25-year-old was and may still be carefully managed this season with Pearson limiting him to one game a week when a double-game week would come up. It’s a shame that he had to be limited as when he had his time spent in the side he looked like he could be a valuable player, including a solid appearance as a sweeper against Middlesbrough.

It isn’t necessarily a point to prove to the manager as such as everyone is aware of what an important player he could be for the club, but instead it is a focus on staying as injury-free as possible and being that midfield enforcer that the club needs.

Nahki Wells

It is likely that Antoine Semenyo will miss the opening few games of the season after getting injured on international duty, though there has been some positive news about his scan.

Advertisement

Semenyo would have been certain to lead the line with Chris Martin against Hull given how well they worked last year but now his likely absence opens a door to the next player.

Whether that is for Wells to start like he did a few times remains to be seen or it could be that Andreas Weimann is pushed further forward and new signing Mark Sykes is accommodated.

This pre-season is a big one for Wells as he enters the last 12 months of his contract with an uncertain future. Pearson has reiterated a few times that he wants to keep him but other clubs have been sniffing around for him

He did want to leave in January when Cardiff City came calling but that was blocked as Pearson didn’t want to strengthen a league rival, especially given the placing of the two sides.

There’s a proven goal scorer in there somewhere but last year was a frustrating one as the Bermuda international was forced to feed off scraps.

Can he force his way into the starting lineup and hold a place down? That will be the task and he can go a long way by scoring goals in the upcoming friendlies.

Advertisement

Zak Vyner

Vyner’s future at the club is uncertain given the recruitment of both a centre-back and right wing-back whilst there is a desire to get in another centre-back as cover.

The academy graduate played 22 times in the Championship last season but was dropped from February onwards and rarely featured after the defeat to Swansea. That is despite at times there is no recognised wing-back and for a few matches, Andreas Weimann was pushed there, whilst Joe Williams was tried in the centre.

The 25-year-old is out with the squad on their camp and is still training with the first-team so no move is imminent given there has been no speculation linking him elsewhere.

Vyner’s got over 100 appearances under his belt and featured regularly in the 2020/21 season, playing under both Holden and Pearson. Given the uncertainty of how Tanner will do this season after his injury problems, Vyner could be kept around as a backup option at right-back, but a more attacking option would be preferred.