Kevin de Bruyne injury could help Manchester City in long run, says Pep Guardiola

Manager hopes enforced rest after busy previous season will have done Belgian good as he is primed for comeback against Everton at weekend

Soccer Football - Carabao Cup Fourth Round - Manchester City v Fulham - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - November 1, 2018  Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne reacts after sustaining an injury                          REUTERS/Andrew Yates
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Pep Guardiola hopes Kevin de Bruyne's recent injuries prove a blessing in disguise after the Manchester City playmaker began this season "tired".

De Bruyne has made just three substitute appearances in the Premier League this term, and not featured at all since November 1, after suffering two separate knee injuries.

The 27 year old was the star of City's title-winning campaign last season and shone again in the summer as Belgium reached the World Cup semi-finals.

Guardiola believes he was still feeling the effects of his heavy workload when his injury problems began and he hopes the enforced rest will have done him good as he nears a comeback.

epa07227151 Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the UEFA Champions League group H soccer match between Manchester City and 1899 Hoffenheim in Manchester, Britain, 12 December 2018.  EPA/NIGEL RODDIS
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has a strong squad to pick players from. EPA

"I think Kevin finished last season exhausted, it was so tough for him," the City manager said. "He played a lot of minutes, a lot. It was an incredible performance and after that he went to the World Cup.

"When he came back I had the feeling that he was a little bit tired still. Sometimes people recover quite well, sometimes mentally it takes time.

"We don't want to be injured but maybe it helped us. Now he's fresh in his mind, he is recovered and now he tries again to avoid the injuries and play regularly.

"Of course he is going to be important for us, he is a special player for us."

De Bruyne and striker Sergio Aguero, who has missed four games with a groin injury, are both in contention for Saturday's clash with Everton at the Etihad Stadium after returning to training this week.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group Stage - Group F - Olympique Lyonnais v Manchester City - Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France - November 27, 2018  Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring their second goal                Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley/File Photo
Sergio Aguero has no pain following an injury to his groin, according to manager Pep Guardiola. Reuters

Speaking at his pre-match news conference, Guardiola said of Aguero: "He did the last training session with the team. He has no pain in his injury so afterwards we are going to decide."

On De Bruyne, he added: "The same as Sergio, he trained quite well, no pain. We'll see."

City have lost just twice in all competitions this season but Guardiola feels De Bruyne has been badly missed.

He said: "Yes, a lot. I said it from the beginning when he got an injury the first time, and the second time, we were going to miss him.

"Of course he has to recover his full condition and he has to compete with the players who have done incredibly good so far, but when you have more players we can rotate it more. If we have competition between them it's much better. Of course it's good news when he is coming back."