Three Bristol City issues for Nigel Pearson to address as Robins face Plymouth Argyle

West Country side head down the M5 for their next pre-season game on Saturday.

Nigel Pearson, manager of Bristol City.
Nigel Pearson, manager of Bristol City.
Nigel Pearson, manager of Bristol City.

The new Championship season starts in just two weeks’ time and as a result things will soon get serious in pre-season.

Bristol City are set to play their third game of the summer on the weekend when they head down to Home Park for a 3pm Saturday kick-off, and a first game on the road.

Of course it’s all about tuning up for Hull City away on the opening weekend of the new league season, and the Robins coaching staff are busy prepping the playing squad for then.

No doubt manager Nigel Pearson will be carefully considering several questions in his mind ahead of facing the Tigers, with the competition for starting places hotting up.

Here are a couple of quandaries that the former Leicester City boss may want to think over in the coming days, with just two pre-season friendlies left (with a double game on Tuesday) for most players after facing the Pilgrims (who narrowly lost 0-1 to Pearson’s side in July last year via an Andi Weimann goal).

1. Sharpen up

Bristol City were unable to find a way past Portsmouth on Tuesday afternoon, despite 120 minutes of playing time.

But that doesn’t matter as it’s just friendlies currently. However, on a personal level Bristol City’s forwards in particular will want to do better in front of goal come the weekend.

Andi Weimann, Nahki Wells, Tommy Conway and Sam Bell all missed good opportunities to net against Portsmouth, when goalkeeper Alex Bass shone for the visitors.

With Chris Martin and Antoine Semenyo to contend to play once both are available again, some of the current front-line may wish to find their form in front of goal and keep a place in the starting line-up.

A glance back at how former City hotshot Bobby Reid netted goal after goal in pre-season back in 2017 shows what’s possible: eight goals then scored in eight pre-season games before a breakthrough campaign in attack - with 19 league goals - that paved a move to the Premier League.

2. Klose okay on the right?

It’s undoubtedly churlish to question the back three after two clean sheets in the last 10 days but we have doubts about Timm Klose playing to the right of the defensive triumvirate.

That’s not to say that the big Swiss centre-back can’t or shouldn’t play there but it will be interesting to see if the former Norwich man keeps that spot in the team when Tomas Kalas returns to fitness.

Klose was excellent last season and will no doubt play a vital role this year, but the right flank may show some signs of vulnerability against the better sides, where agility and pace may be used against City’s right rearguard.

The relationship with Kane Wilson or George Tanner - to see either wing-back drop back to help out - could be key, to stop 34-year-old Klose being exposed. Either that or move Kal Naismith there and Klose central?

3. Left wing-back spot up for grabs?

The team is already beginning to look like it might pick itself: Dan Bentley in goal (with Stefan Bajic injured); the current back three and with Kane Wilson on the right.

With key Pearson lieutenant Matty James and Joe Williams in the centre, and a front three that picks itself given last year’s success in attack (WSM, with Wells to feature if not Semenyo) then that leaves just one true battle: left wing-back.

Pearson has shown that everyone must earn their spot and so no-one has a given right to play, but certainly a spine is emerging.

Jay Dasilva or Cam Pring - or even another academy graduate such as James Taylor given his good showing on Tuesday - promises to be a duel to keep an eye on, once Pring returns from a minor knee knock.