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Manchester City's Kevin de Bruyne confident injury problems behind him

The Belgian has not started a Premier League game this season for the champions due to knee problems but is set to feature against Leicester City in the League Cup

Kevin de Bruyne has had to watch from the touchline for most of the season so far for Manchester City. Getty
Kevin de Bruyne has had to watch from the touchline for most of the season so far for Manchester City. Getty

Kevin de Bruyne is confident his injury problems are being him and believes his knee can cope with his latest comeback.

The midfielder, who has spent two spells on the sidelines, is set to make just his third start of the season in Manchester City’s League Cup quarter-final at Leicester City on Tuesday, after returning with a cameo in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Everton.

“I'm happy with my body because I know I have no problems with muscles,” De Bruyne said. “They were both just accidents, the second time also. I felt my knee and it pops.”

“[On Saturday] I just ran for 20 minutes. I'm not looking to play a good game, just [to] run without stopping. That gives me a good boost physically and lets me get my lungs open for the next game.”

De Bruyne’s knee gave way following a swift return to action after a season when he played 68 times last year, culminating in Belgium’s run to the World Cup semi-finals.

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“I played the most of anyone last year - in the whole world,” De Bruyne reflected. “And I played the World Cup without a problem. I think the most important thing is having a summer break; if you have that you can feel okay but there is always a time in someone's career where you feel a bit less.

“But I felt alright, it was just a shame that when I came back [in October] after one week I was out for two-and-a-half months. I was happy to come back and worked really hard but after three games it happened again.”

While Pep Guardiola believes De Bruyne was tired after his marathon campaign last year, the former Chelsea player disagreed.

“I wasn't exhausted,” he said. “I think in general people need a good summer break, sometimes we play for 11-and-a-half months at a time and there is not enough time to rest. I had a rest of about three weeks - after 12 months of playing. Is that short? Probably, yes. But I felt okay to come back.”

City have only dropped seven points in a season when their outstanding player last year is yet to begin a league game. De Bruyne has been a spectator for much of the campaign and has praised his team-mates for how they have coped in his extended absence.

“They did brilliantly without me but I'm sure they'll be happy that I'm back,” he said. “They have had to manage with the players who are there and unfortunately sometimes players are out. Now I'll try to be at my top level to help them out.

Bernardo Silva has excelled in De Bruyne’s position as City have shown their strength in depth. The Belgian explained: “That's why you invest in the team and put all that money in to have a full squad. The investment is the beginning.

"They did really smartly by buying young players who can get better. We've a squad of 21 or 22 players and it doesn't matter who plays - they have regular games in the team. We are fully there for the four trophies.”

Sergio Aguero, who has not featured in the last five games, is another who could face Leicester, though City are still without David Silva and Benjamin Mendy.

De Bruyne’s return is timely with City in a run of 13 games in 43 days, while they will have further midweek fixtures in January if they reach the League Cup semi-finals.

“Unless you get out of some cups, it's two games a week,” De Bruyne added. “That doesn't really change. It's a busy period because everyone plays.”

Updated: December 18, 2018 08:48 AM

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