Kevin De Bruyne is finally available to feature for Manchester City after a long injury layoff that has seen him sidelined for almost four months. The influential midfielder injured his hamstring on the opening day of the season against Burnley which required surgery. That ruled him out of action for months in order to recover.
Having resumed training in the last couple of weeks, he is eager to play. But the manager has warned against rushing back to action for fear of a relapse. And he is right to be cautious given the player’s history with injuries. Apart from John Stones, De Bruyne has been the player most susceptible to injuries in the City squad for years now.
Since joining from Wolfsburg in 2015, there has hardly been a season the midfielder did not spent considerable time on the sidelines due to injury. For a player so important to the team, he is sometimes so fragile.
That has required careful management to ensure he is available, especially for the most important parts of the season. Manager Pep Guardiola has done a very good job in that regard in the last few campaigns. De Bruyne’s availability was crucial to winning the treble last term.
As the team heads into the business part of the season, the timing of his return couldn’t have been better. With the likes of Erling Haaland, Jeremy Doku and John Stones all struggling with injuries, the team could do with some reinforcement.
But Guardiola knows better than to rush him back into the team. That movie has played out before and it didn’t end well. The last thing the manager wants or the team needs for that matter is De Bruyne returning to the treatment table.
It’s understandable then that the manager will choose to be cautious when throwing the player back into action. He explained his reasoning in a recent interview.
“He’s training with a lot of energy. Being injured is not good for anyone but I think for his mind it will have been good to have a few months off,” Guardiola said of De Bruyne.
“What he loves is playing football but it’s been a long injury, it was major surgery and muscular so we have to be careful. It looks like you are perfect but you are not.
“It’s how many minutes he can handle and do it step by step. It’s not playing 90 minutes then three days later another 90 and another – after that you’d be in trouble.”
The manager is adopting a sensible approach to player management that will benefit the team in the long run. With goals of retaining the Premier League title and even the Champions League this season, it will be vital to have De Bruyne available for the remainder of the season.
In fact, the Belgian is so important that his presence in the team can make all the difference.