3 stories you may have missed in pre-season friendlies this week

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The football season is fast approaching and while Euro 2016 may be coming to a conclusion, teams around the country are getting prepared with a few friendlies.

Unless you’re a real football news hound, it’s often easy to miss a few of the storylines that emerge from these pipe-cleaning encounters, so we’ve cherry picked three of the biggest news items from the last week here:

Familiar face returns for Aston Villa

Roberto Di Matteo had the privilege of being able to bring on Stiliyan Petrov for the second half of Aston Villa’s friendly with Austrian club Gak.

The Bulgarian hadn’t played for four years as he battled bravely against leukaemia, but is stepping up his return to fitness after beating the illness.

Villa ran out comfortable 8-0 winners in their pre-season tune up, with Petrov’s appearance the obvious highlight for the team as evidenced by Jack Grealish’s tweet:

Yakubu turns out for National League club

Former Everton, Portsmouth and Middlesbrough striker Yakubu played 60 minutes for National League side Boreham Wood against Reading.

The Nigerian was last seen playing professionally in Turkey, but is thought to live closeby to the Wood and had a run out against another of his former teams.

Yakubu was unable to get on the scoresheet as Reading won 5-0 and the club are unconvinced that they’ll be able to sign the striker permanently.

“Realistically I think he has offers and ambitions to play at the highest level available,” their manager Luke Garrard said.

Liverpool show off new signings

Jurgen Klopp handed starts to all three of his summer signings against Tranmere.

The German was able to show off Loris Karius, Joel Matip and Sadio Mane to supporters in the pre-season encounter, but it was a familiar face that settled the match.

Danny Ings scored the only goal of the game as the Reds fielded two separate XIs in the first and second halves.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.