Man City boss Pep Guardiola hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Kevin de Bruyne starting on the bench for the showdown with Chelsea on Sunday.
The 27-year-old has struggled with injuries this season, missing a significant early part of the campaign with ligament damage in his knee.
However, he has steadily made his comeback since December, and has begun to feature regularly in recent weeks while taking his tallies up to four goals and four assists in 18 appearances in all competitions.
The Belgian international is undoubtedly a fundamental figure for City, acting as the driving force in their Premier League title success last season with 12 goals and 21 assists in 52 games.
While he has been severely limited this year, there is no doubt that on his day and when fully fit, he can be a decisive presence in the Man City line up, but Guardiola has suggested that he could be left on the bench against Chelsea, as noted in freelance injury analyst Ben Dinnery’s tweet below.
KdB could be benched. “He played the last two games. Sometimes when you have a long injury you have to make a decision. I didn’t want to give him games, games, games, after injuries. It’s quite possible he might not play against Chelsea everyone knows that.” #MCFC
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) February 8, 2019
It seems like a sensible strategy in truth, as the last thing that Guardiola wants to see is De Bruyne pick up a fresh issue by playing heavy minutes and miss the title run-in and Champions League knockout stages.
Given his side moved back to the top of the Premier League table in midweek, albeit they’ve played an extra game than Liverpool, it would appear as though he’s managed to find the necessary solutions to cope with De Bruyne’s absence too.
Nevertheless, the quality that the Belgian ace brings to the side undoubtedly makes them better, and so if he does indeed start on the bench on Sunday, that will surely be music to the ears of Maurizio Sarri as it’s one key figure he won’t have to find a way to nullify from the start at least.