Belfast Telegraph

Pep praises De Bruyne but says he may not start against Chelsea

By Andy Hampson

Pep Guardiola has warned that Kevin De Bruyne is not a certain starter as champions Manchester City host Chelsea tomorrow.

De Bruyne, City's star man as they won the Premier League by a record margin last term, is still being eased back into action after missing most of the first half of the season through injury.

The Belgium playmaker appeared only as a late substitute as City returned to the top of the table with a victory at Everton in midweek.

At the time Guardiola admitted he wanted to ensure De Bruyne remained fresh to face his former club at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, but now he has said there are no guarantees.

Guardiola said: "It's quite possible (he does not play). Every player knows it's quite possible to play and quite possible not to. It is what it is.

"At the end we judge the players for who they are but they are to perform. There are moments when they are not in better condition, when team-mates are in better condition than them.

"In football what you have done is in the past. You have to do it again."

Guardiola, however, insisted he had no problems with De Bruyne's form and did want to hold him back at Goodison Park.

"We try to control the players," said Guardiola. "He played the last two games. I preferred (he played) for a few minutes at Everton.

"He went out for five mins, plus extra time, and he was incredible, the attitude, everything. I want him to sustain that for a long time.

"Sometimes when you're out a long time injured you need (to be careful) a bit there. I don't want him playing game, game, game."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph