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Saturday 16
February

Manchester City

De Bruyne not certain to start

9th February 2019, 08:57 by Nick Harris

Kevin De Bruyne is not a certain starter when champions Manchester City host Chelsea on Sunday, according to Pep Guardiola.

De Bruyne, City's star man as they won the Premier League by a record margin last term, is still being eased back into action after missing most of the first half of the season through injury.

The Belgium playmaker appeared only as a late substitute as City returned to the top of the table with a victory at Everton in midweek.

At the time Guardiola admitted he wanted to ensure De Bruyne remained fresh to face his former club at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, but now he has said there are no guarantees.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Guardiola said: "It's quite possible (he does not play). Every player knows it's quite possible to play and quite possible not to. It is what it is.

"At the end we judge the players for who they are but they are to perform. There are moments when they are not in better condition, when team-mates are in better condition than them.

"In football what you have done is in the past. You have to do it again."

Guardiola, however, insisted he had no problems with De Bruyne's form and did want to hold him back at Goodison Park.

"We try to control the players," said Guardiola.

"He played the last two games. I preferred (he played) for a few minutes at Everton.

"He went out for five mins, plus extra time, and he was incredible - giving the assist, the behaviour, the attitude, everything. I want him to sustain that for a long time.

"Sometimes when you're out a long time injured you need (to be careful) a bit there. I don't want him playing game, game, game."

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Nick Harris is a long-standing journalist who specialises in football and rugby league. An avid golfer, Nick also follows the major boxing fights closely.

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