Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City 5-1 Bournemouth: Blues have quality to shine without star duo, says De Bruyne

By Andy Hampson

Kevin de Bruyne accepts there can be no excuses if Manchester City slip up in the absences of star duo Sergio Aguero and David Silva.

City's most established attacking pair were both injured in the recent international break with key striker Aguero set to be out for at least a month and playmaker Silva a fortnight.

The pressure to deliver up front has therefore shifted to the likes of De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Bony - a trio signed for close to a combined fee of £130m over the past year.

They all responded to the challenge superbly on Saturday as the Premier League leaders thrashed Bournemouth 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium.

Former Liverpool man Sterling scored his first competitive hat-trick, Bony grabbed the other two and De Bruyne was influential throughout the contest.

De Bruyne said: "More people will look at us because we have lost two great players on the attacking front, but I think the other ones are also really good players.

"Maybe we don't have the experience of the other ones but I think we are doing really well together and the more games we will get the more we will know each other and hopefully the better we will do.

"It is always a blow when you miss them but we need to maintain our level and try to win games without them.

"It is not an excuse at the Etihad to say we may lose four games because they are not there.

"If you want to win titles you have to do so with the players that you have.

"Sometimes it is maybe more difficult but you have to try to win these games."

Another player who might have been asked to step up in such circumstances is Samir Nasri, but the Frenchman experienced discomfort on his return from a hamstring injury against the Cherries.

The 28-year-old replaced De Bruyne in the 62nd minute but was troubled in the latter stages and only played until the end because City had used all their substitutes.

He now looks doubtful for Wednesday night's Champions League clash with Spanish side Sevilla.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini said: "Nasri had a problem with his hamstring. I think it will be very difficult for him (to play on Wednesday).

"Unfortunately we knew that he was feeling something after we made the third change, but he didn't run too much.

"He stayed in the middle of the pitch so we will see in the next day what happens with him."

Belfast Telegraph


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