Man City expected to back Kevin De Bruyne for Leeds clash


The Belgian missed the wins over Fulham and West Ham with a knock.

Kevin De Bruyne could come straight back into the Manchester City side for Saturday’s Premier League match against Leeds.

De Bruyne missed the wins over Fulham and West Ham after going down late on in City’s 4-1 win over Arsenal on 26 April.

Now, with City looking to use Saturday’s game to move four points clear of the Gunners at the top of the table, the Belgian could return after returning to training on Thursday.

“He trained yesterday, he trained well. We are training today and we will decide after training,” said Guardiola.

“Losing or missing just one week or 10 days at this stage of the season is not a problem. The same thing happened with Nathan (Ake). If he is fit, he can play.”

Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg away to Real Madrid is already looming, but Guardiola insisted the game will not be on his mind when deciding how to manage De Bruyne’s return, nor his squad as a whole.

“There are a lot of games and a lot of tension,” Guardiola said. “I can see that the team is really tired after the demands of West Ham and Fulham. I got to see how the players recover, just three days after the previous game.

“I will focus on how they are physically and mentally for this match. After Madrid. The Premier League is so nice, it’s important to get four points ahead of Arsenal, really important. All attention is focused on tomorrow’s game.”

City take on Sam Allardyce on Saturday, the 68-year-old taking charge of Leeds for the first time having been called in to try and salvage their Premier League status.

“There is always an effect of a new manager on players in the first game or two,” Guardiola said. “Every team is playing for important things. Of course Leeds are here to stay, the impact is always huge.

“I don’t know how they play, we don’t have any information, after five, ten minutes we will have to adapt quickly.” We can imagine what they are trying to do. It’s a huge, important game for us…

“When you don’t have information about your opponent, you don’t focus much on him. Focus more on yourself. You have to think about your team. We are analyzing the West Ham game to help us with the next game.”

The meeting with Leeds will once again focus attention on Kalvin Phillips’ battle for playing time at City.

The £42million summer signing has made just eight Premier League appearances, all as a substitute, after suffering an early setback in his City career when he needed shoulder surgery in September.

Displacing Rodri proved almost impossible for the Englishman, who must have seen the funny side when he was brought off the bench in the 87th minute against West Ham on Wednesday but had to wait until the break to come on – even as Guardiola urged his players to to kick the ball.

Asked if Phillips still has an important role for the rest of the season, Guardiola said: “I’m sure he will be ready, always ready, every player is ready. Doctors and physios do incredible work to keep players fit. We arrive with all the players ready, that’s really important.

“Everyone must be prepared. I’m sure everyone will be important, a lot of minutes or a few minutes.”

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