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The forward played half of the Elite Development Squad's Tuesday defeat to Preston North End and is set for another run-out against Bolton's second-string on Monday

By Jonathan Birchall

Manchester City are stepping up Carlos Tevez's return-to-fitness programme after the Argentine failed to impress in a 45-minute stint in a behind-closed-doors friendly for the club on Tuesday.

The striker, who hasn't featured for the Premier League leaders since refusing to warm-up off the bench during City's 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in September, looked sluggish as he played the first half in front of football administration officer Brian Marwood and football development executive Patrick Vieira in a 3-1 defeat to Preston.

Having spent months away from the club, largely in his native Argentina, Goal.com understands Tevez is likely to be given another opportunity to improve his fitness in a reserve clash with Bolton in the Manchester Senior Cup on Tuesday evening.

City had originally hoped to include the 28-year-old in the squad for their Premier League clash with Swansea on March 11 but with the forward's severe lack of fitness showing, the club are more likely to schedule his return against Chelsea on March 19.

Tevez claimed that he would require only two weeks’ worth of training to start firing on all cylinders again, but, after managing just a single shot and proving largely ineffective against Preston, the club’s officials are now concerned that he needs further conditioning time.

The striker's appearance has elicited a positive response from City's players, and defender Joleon Lescott expressed his delight over Tevez's return via Twitter, stating: "Good to see Carlos in sky blue again. Decent day all round."

The match was played out at City's Carrington training ground after having been moved from Chorley's Victory Park after concerns over privacy were raised by the Etihad Stadium outfit.


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