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Pep Guardiola hails impact of recent Manchester City fitness boost after return of key pair



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has discussed the impact of having both Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland back available for selection.

The 53-year-old handed starts to both Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland at Brentford on Monday evening, as the attacking duo started a Premier League match together for the first time since August.

De Bruyne has made four appearances since returning from a long-term hamstring injury against Huddersfield in January, meanwhile Haaland made his first start since December at the Gtech Community Stadium in west London.

Haaland, who hasn’t scored since a 1-1 draw against Liverpool in November, still jointly-leads the race for the Premier League Golden Boot, with 14 goals in 17 appearances.

De Bruyne has already been directly involved in four Premier League goals, playing a crucial role in wins against Newcastle United, Burnley and Brentford.

Both players look set to start on Saturday afternoon at the Etihad Stadium, when Manchester City host Everton and bid to return to the top of the Premier League table with a victory.

The Sky Blues could move ahead of Liverpool with a win over the Toffees, with Manchester City unbeaten against Everton since a 4-0 loss in 2017.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash, Guardiola has hailed the return of the pair: “You don’t have to study in Harvard or Yale to understand that [Erling] Haaland’s goals and Kevin De Bruyne’s assists are a big help.”

City have six matches across three competitions scheduled for the remainder of this month, and also return to UEFA Champions League action in midweek, with a last-16 first-leg tie against FC Copenhagen in Denmark.

Haaland has five goals and one assist in the Champions League already this season, alongside 19 direct goal involvements in 17 Premier League fixtures.