Belfast Telegraph

I'm sad for injured De Bruyne but he'll come back stronger, insists Pep

 

By Andy Hampson

Kevin De Bruyne could face another six weeks out after Manchester City confirmed the midfielder has suffered knee ligament damage for a second time this season.

De Bruyne, making just his fourth appearance since his last lay-off, was hurt in the latter stages of Thursday's Carabao Cup fourth-round win over Fulham at the Etihad Stadium.

The 27-year-old was assessed yesterday and, although he does not require surgery on this occasion, will face a period of recovery.

Manager Pep Guardiola said: "For the fact he was out two-and-a-half months and again, we're sad for him. Nobody likes to be injured.

"When you come back you cannot expect in one day to be the player we know he is, he needs time to settle, take the rhythm, the pace.

"Yesterday he came back in many things but it is what it is. Unfortunately he's injured but fortunately it's not surgery. Between four and six weeks, the doctor said, he will come back."

De Bruyne's injury, to his left knee, is not to the same knee that was operated on after sustaining ligament damage in August.

Guardiola said: "This kind of injury is unlucky but I think he's so strong and had recovered so well. The other was more dangerous than this one. He'll recover well, we have an excellent (medical) department."

De Bruyne will miss next Sunday's derby against Manchester United and at least two Champions League games. He is also likely to be unavailable for the champions' trip to former club Chelsea on December 8.

Guardiola, whose side host Southampton today, said: "It's not about the Manchester derby - the Manchester derby is three points like Southampton is three points. The Manchester derby will not be a final, it will be another game.

"But we are a stronger team with Kevin than without him. We have to live without him and we have to be there when he comes back, that's all we can do."

De Bruyne's start against Fulham was just his second of the season and Guardiola was asked if he had considered substituting him before he was injured.

He said: "It's a dynamic game with a lot of contact and this sometimes happens."

Both goals against Fulham were scored by Brahim Diaz, one of City's most highly-rated academy products. The 19-year-old's future has been thrown into doubt this week with reports contract talks have stalled due to concerns over a lack of game time.

Guardiola said: "The fact is we want him."

Guardiola also dismissed reports that the club are interested in signing Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

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