Pre-season gathers pace as Torres returns, Bale is injured, while Ba and Clyne come to life

Fernando Torres made his first pre-season appearance for Chelsea yesterday against AC Milan. Torres came off the bench for 30 minutes but failed to make an impression in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat.

Torres is a key target for fantasy managers for Chelsea’s opening double gameweek. We’ll need to monitor him in Chelsea’s last friendly against Brighton on 4 August, and the Community Shield clash against Man City, to decide if he’s worthy of a place in our squads.

Yohan Cabaye and Steven Gerrard also made their first pre-season appearances yesterday, in Newcastle’s 2-1 win over FC Braga, and Liverpool’s 0-0 draw with Spurs, which saw Fabio Borini make his debut for Liverpool.

Gareth Bale picked up a twisted ankle and left the ground in a protective boot after a nasty challenge from Charlie Adam. Tottenham are waiting for news on the injury.

Vincent Kompany has returned home from Man City’s tour early to receive treatment for a calf injury. The injury doesn’t sound too serious but needs to be monitored.

Newcastle’s win was interesting for those interested in signing Demba Ba, who could do with a PR operation as his fantasy reputation is still seriously tarnished after he went from hero to zero last season.

Alan Pardew lined up with Ba centrally alongside Papiss Cisse in a 4-4-2, which ties in with Pardew’s recent promise that Ba will play 90% through the middle this season.

Ba also took the penalty for Newcastle, with Papiss Cisse on the pitch, suggesting Ba is still first choice penalty taker. Ba did miss the penalty but scored from the rebound.

Ba (7.5m) is 2m cheaper than Cisse (9.5m), so choosing Ba over Cisse is a serious temptation for fantasy managers, reflected by Ba’s current ownership of 24.8%, and Cisse’s ownership of 17%.

Ba still has plenty to do to convince us that he’s worth a place in our squads. Ba was paired centrally with Cisse in a 4-4-2 for many games last season, when Cisse first joined, but still dropped deep and only managed one goal in that role.

Newcastle’s first 4 fixtures are far from easy, with trips to Chelsea and Everton, and a home clash against Spurs.

Finally, if you’re one of those on the look out for a 4.0m defender, Southampton’s new boy Nathaniel Clyne started at right-back against Ajax yesterday and received great reviews for his performance.

Clyne replaced Frazer Richardson in the line-up, which is what Sleno hinted at in his review of Southampton’s squad.