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Manuel Pellegrini expects City's stars to step up in De Bruyne's absence


Big blow: Kevin De Bruyne is out

Big blow: Kevin De Bruyne is out

AFP/Getty Images

Big blow: Kevin De Bruyne is out

Manuel Pellegrini has challenged his squad to fill the void left by Kevin De Bruyne's injury.

The inspirational De Bruyne faces up to 10 weeks on the sidelines after suffering knee and ankle ligament damage in Wednesday's Capital One Cup semi-final victory over Everton.

The 24-year-old had made a big impact after coming off the bench in that game, scoring and setting up another goal for Sergio Aguero.

This is typical of the impression he has made since his £54m club record signing from Wolfsburg last summer, having now scored 12 goals and assisted 12 others.

Ahead of today's FA Cup trip to Aston Villa Pellegrini said: "It's a challenge for the squad and it's a challenge for the players that play where Kevin does.

"Raheem Sterling, Jesus Navas, David Silva will have more responsibility knowing that Kevin is not here.

"It's impossible to have 25 Kevin De Bruynes in the squad, but I answer the same as when we couldn't play with Sergio Aguero. You have some players that are impossible to replace because they are top players, but we did it. We replaced Kun, we replaced David and we replaced Vincent Kompany. Now we have to replace Kevin."

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City at least have Aguero getting back to something approaching his best form after his own injury problems. The Argentina striker missed 11 out of 14 games in the autumn because of hamstring and heel problems, but has now scored six in his last five games.

Pellegrini said: "I never tried to find an excuse because those things are part of the game.

"Kevin was a very important assister for goals, but we made all the first part of the season without Kun and with Kevin.

"Now we are going to do it without Kevin but with Kun."

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