Kevin De Bruyne declared he has found another gear in his return from injury as he has ensured to score or assist in every game since he returned. He had been out for seven weeks with a knee problem when he made his comeback at Leicester in the Carabao Cup on December 18. and his return to action has been more phased and gradual than in the past.But the Manchester City midfield ace does not expect to play virtually every game until the end of the campaign.
The Blues now face a difficult run of five games in 15 days, so De Bruyne’s return to full fitness could not have come at a better time. He put in a man of the match performance as City beat Burnley 5-0 in the FA Cup on Saturday, scoring a trademark blockbuster, teeing up Bernardo Silva for his goal and forcing an own goal out of Burnley defender Kevin Long.
Last year De Bruyne was like an automaton, playing every Premier League game apart from the Manchester derby which was sandwiched between the two legs of the Champions League quarter-final, and the meaningless game with Brighton, after the title was wrapped up.
He seemed inexhaustible, repeatedly putting in top-class performances, although he admitted in the second half of the campaign that he was feeling the fatigue. This time, City will have a fresh and fit De Bruyne in the second half of the season – but he is not expecting to play as regularly.
The fact that Bernardo is now seen as more of a central midfielder, and has excelled in that role, means that Pep Guardiola has the option of leaving De Bruyne out every now and then – or even of using him in the deep-lying Fernandinho role which was trialled at Burton last week.
De Bruyne was wary about being fit enough to play all three games this week, with City heading to Newcastle tomorrow night and then facing Arsenal at home on Sunday. “I am getting closer to that, but the squad is much bigger this year and there will be more rotation,” he told MEN Sport.
“With Everton not drawing we have another midweek game, so it will be four games in 12 days – and big games also – so it will be tough, and maybe he is going to rotate.”
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