Manchester City footballer Benjamin Mendy has appeared in court to face a new allegation of attempted rape.
The 27-year-old appeared in the dock at Chester Crown Court, where a judge ruled that the new charge the France international faces can now be reported.
Mendy now faces nine charges in all, including seven counts of rape involving six alleged victims.
At the pre-trial hearing, Judge Patrick Thompson urged lawyers to ensure there is no delay and that the case will be ready as he set a date for a trial, estimated to last up to six weeks, starting on July 25.
He said: “It’s not fair on the complainants and not fair on the defendants.
“I’m conscious of the fact that the complainants have already suffered significant delay.
“Say, for example, Mr Mendy, his career is on hold. Everyone has got to understand Mr Mendy can’t go to work. This matter needs to be tried.”
The defendant, wearing a dark grey suit, white shirt and black tie, spoke only to confirm his identity and leaned his head towards a French interpreter who sat between him and his co-defendant, Louis Saha Matturie.
Judge Thompson set a further pre-trial hearing for March 11.
Mendy, of Withinlee Road, Prestbury, Cheshire, is accused of nine offences relating to six alleged victims.
They include seven counts of rape relating to four women, one of sexual assault and the latest charge, one of attempted rape involving a new complainant.
Matturie, 40, of Eccles, Salford, is accused of 10 offences, involving seven women, including seven counts of rape relating to five women and three of sexual assault.
All the charges span from late 2020 to August 2021. None of the women involved can be identified by law as complainants of sexual offences.
Both defendants were given bail in January after being in custody since both were first arrested on August 26 last year.
At the end of Wednesday’s 90-minute hearing, Judge Thompson told both defendants: “You will next be required to attend on Friday the 11th of March.
“You both have your bail on conditions as before.”
Mendy nodded and replied: “OK.”
Mendy has played for Manchester City since 2017, when he joined from Monaco for £49.3m.