Trevor Francis says the International Champions Cup will provide the first indicator over Joe Hart's future in the Manchester City team, following the arrival of Willy Caballero.
The pre-season tournament sees eight of Europe's biggest clubs playing in 13 North American cities and Francis is intrigued to get a first look at City’s title defence preparations, as well as the new-look Liverpool and Manchester United.
And the Sky Sports expert beleives that Caballero, the Argentine goalkeeper who has followed Manuel Pellegrini from Malaga to City, will be conspicuous by his presence either in goal or on the bench.
Francis said: “He’s a very accomplished goalkeeper. I think he will give Hart serious competition.
“The season before last, when Pellegrini was there and they had a great run in Europe, he was voted the top keeper in Spain.
“I’m not going to say [Caballero] has been bought to go straight in as number one, I’m not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that if Hart doesn’t recognise it, he will recognise it pretty quickly when he works with this guy that he’ll be getting very strong competition.
“A manager in Pellegrini’s position who competes on all fronts next season needs two very good goalkeepers. He obviously felt Costel Pantilimon wasn’t pushing Hart sufficiently.
“When you bring someone in that you’ve worked with personally it’s a reassurance. He knows him as a goalkeeper and as a person.”
Former England international Francis will be part of the Sky Sports team covering the event and is looking forward to seeing how Liverpool shape up equipped with a host of new signings, but without the departed Luis Suarez.
“It’s impossible to replace Suarez unless you’re able to sign Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi,” he said.
“Adam Lallana is a player who shows immense promise, he forced his way into the England team and seemed to be a certain starter but surprisingly didn’t.
“He’s one that, working with better players than Southampton’s, can go on to be a good signing.
“Rickie Lambert is more than a big, strong target man. There were numerous occasions where he looked effective in possession, he can bring others into the game.
“It’s an interesting signing – the problem is that from day one he’s going to be compared to Suarez.”
Liverpool and City are in Group B with Olympiakos and AC Milan and Francis praised the early transfer dealings made by the Premier League sides as they jet off towards the glamorous tournament across the United States and Canada.
He said: “If you do your business early, the better it is for the club and the player.
“It gives the player a chance to meet his new team-mates in an environment where you’re living together for quite a long period of time.
“You eat together, train together, play together and you get to know people.
“The manager looks very closely at how certain players react in these situations and it’s knowledge for him.”
The International Champions Cup starts Friday morning at 12.30am on as Olympiakos face AC Milan on Sky Sports 1.