Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has sent a warning to Kevin De Bruyne, after the midfielder returned from injury on Sunday afternoon.
The 32-year-old made just his third appearance of the campaign this weekend, featuring against Huddersfield Town in the Emirates FA Cup third round at the Etihad Stadium, as Manchester City started their latest trophy defence.
Pep Guardiola’s side welcomed back both De Bruyne and Jeremy Doku during a 5-0 thrashing of Darren Moore’s struggling Terriers side, with Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez starring once again for Manchester City.
Foden opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a thumping strike, prior to Alvarez quickly doubling the Blues’ lead four minutes later.
The FA Cup holders ran riot in the second-half, as Foden scored his second as well as Oscar Bobb and Doku finding the net, to comfortably book City’s place in the fourth round of the competition.
A fourth round tie is one of just three matches Guardiola’s side will play for the remainder of this month, with the Premier League ‘Winter Break’ providing Manchester City with the opportunity to travel to Abu Dhabi for a warm weather training camp.
The two-week break between fixtures against Newcastle United and Burnley also offers the chance to stagnate the return of De Bruyne, who featured for the first time since August on Sunday afternoon.
The Belgian star underwent surgery for a ruptured hamstring in August, suffering the injury during the opening weekend of the season, when Manchester City travelled to Turf Moor to face Burnley.
De Bruyne, who has been training with the first-team since December, was an unused substitute against Sheffield United last weekend, but the 32-year-old was utilised against Huddersfield.
The midfielder registered an assist within minutes of being introduced, but Guardiola has warned that De Bruyne is unlikely to start a game for Manchester City in the near future.
“[You] have to be careful, I have to speak with him but especially with his doctors, physios and the guys who know what the minutes should be and the best processes.
“What Kevin [De Bruyne] needs, what every player with long injuries needs, is to accumulate weeks of training and minutes.
“A setback would be the worst for Kevin [De Bruyne], Jeremy [Doku], Erling [Haaland].
“If he can train four or five or six training sessions in a row, play minutes in a game, then after that another four, five training sessions, minutes again, one day 90 minutes, another 15, train good in Abu Dhabi.
“That is the best that can happen right now for Kevin [De Bruyne].”
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