Man United, Liverpool, Sunderland fly out on tours
Manchester United, Liverpool and Sunderland stepped up their preparations for the upcoming Premier League season by flying out on offseason tours across the globe Monday.
Man United headed to Durban in South Africa to play AmaZulu FC on Wednesday night before going up against Ajax Cape Town on Saturday. United will then fly to China to face Didier Drogba's new side, Shanghai Shenhua, on July 25.
Coach Alex Ferguson has selected a 22-man squad for the tour, including the likes of Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and his new signing from Borussia Dortmund, Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa.
Wayne Rooney and Nani have been left out to be given more time to recover from the European Championship, while Ryan Giggs stays in England as he will captain the British football team at the London Olympics.
Meanwhile, Liverpool has flown out to Toronto to begin a three-match tour of North America and Canada, beginning Wednesday against Toronto FC at the Rodgers Center. The team will then join principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner for the 100-year celebrations of Fenway Park, the historic ballpark of the Boston Red Sox - which are also owned by Werner and Henry - by taking on Roma on July 25.
Liverpool will finish its tour in Baltimore against Premier League rival Tottenham three days later.
Liverpool's squad for the tour includes England captain Steven Gerrard and new signing Fabio Borini. Goalkeeper Pepe Reina will enjoy an extended break as he was part of Spain's Euro 2012-winning squad. Luis Suarez stays behind as he is part of Uruguay's Olympic football squad.
Sunderland travel to South Korea to compete in the Peace Cup alongside German club Hamburg, Dutch side Groningen and local side Seongnam.
Coach Martin O'Neill, who won the trophy in 2009 as coach of Aston Villa, believes the trip will be a good opportunity to step up the intensity of the offseason training.
''Over the course of the coming days we'll start to get a bit more fitness into the players with some harder work alongside some sort of enjoyable work as well,'' O'Neill said.