Kevin De Bruyne could return to action for Manchester City in Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Tottenham after his ankle injury proved not to be as serious as first feared.
De Bruyne limped off early in the second half of last weekend’s 1-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, with City manager Pep Guardiola saying the damage “doesn’t look good”.
The Belgium international was absent as his team-mates came from a goal down and endured a red card for John Stones to beat Aston Villa 2-1 and go 11 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Appearing visibly relieved before the match in the aftermath of the European Super League collapse, Guardiola reported further good news afterwards when De Bruyne’s fitness was raised.
“It [the injury] was less than we expected, yesterday he felt much, much better,” he said.
“Today I didn’t speak to him but we’ll see tomorrow in training.”
After attempting to win a fourth consecutive EFL Cup on Sunday, City turn their attentions towards the first leg of a Champions League semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain.
“I think if he’s not ready for the final, maybe he will be ready for the semi-final of the Champions League,” Guardiola said.
Before Wednesday’s game, an email attributed to City chief executive Ferran Soriano was sent to club members to apologise for signing up to the swiftly aborted Super League.
Guardiola lambasted the plans as “not sport” before anyone from his club had gone on the record, although he insisted his relationship with Soriano – which goes back to the pair’s time together at Barcelona – is not in need of repair.
“I know the guys [on the board] and they don’t need to apologise,” he said.
“My chairman [Khaldoon Al-Mubarak] and CEO, I know who they are, this is most important. I understand the statement but it’s a closed chapter, it’s over.”
The same might now be said for the Premier League title race, even if John McGinn’s goal after 20 seconds threatened to let second-place Manchester Untied back into the hunt.
“It would have been dangeorus if we’d lost, Manchester United are in top form, but we deserve it for what we’ve done this season,” Guardiola added, with man of the match Phil Foden equalising before Rodri headed the decisive goal.
“How incredible they were in the locker room, committed after two defeats. We knew how important it was as preparation for the final and the Champions League.
“It’s close in the most difficult season of our lives. We have to finish this chapter, three games and we are champions.”
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