SYDNEY: Aston Villa and Leeds United will clash for a July friendly in Australia, the latest English Premier League clubs to announce a return to pre-season touring after the Covid pandemic. They will meet on July 17 at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium as part of a three-team tournament with A-league side Brisbane Roar, the clubs announced on Thursday. “The tour comes at a crucial stage of our pre-season so the fitness programme and the games are important,” said Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard, whose side will be making their first trip to Australia. It will be the third trip to Australia for Leeds, who played in Perth against Manchester United in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. “I’m very much looking forward to taking the team back for what will be an important part of our preparations for the 2022/23 season,” Leeds manager Jesse March said. The Premier League sides and Brisbane Roar will play for the new Queensland Champions Cup, which had been due to launch in 2020 but was delayed by the pandemic. Brisbane Roar play Leeds on July 14 on the Gold Coast before facing Villa on July 20 in Townsville. “We are hoping to see plenty of orange in the stands supporting Queensland’s A-League club against two of England’s finest clubs,” said the Roar’s chief executive David Pourre. Leeds and Aston Villa join a series of high-profile football friendlies announced across Asia and Australia. PSG stars Lionel Messi and Neymar are expected to go head-to-head when Brazil and Argentina meet for a World Cup warm-up match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in June. Liverpool and Crystal Palace will meet for a friendly on July 19 at the same famous venue. Barcelona will make their first trip to Australia for a match against an A-League All Stars side on May 25. Quadruple-chasing Liverpool have announced July friendlies against Manchester United in Bangkok and Crystal Palace in Singapore. Tottenham Hotspur are to travel to South Korea the same month to face a K-League select XI.