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Other SportsManchester City boss Guardiola cautious over returning trio

Manchester City boss Guardiola cautious over returning trio

Kevin De Bruyne, Erling Haaland and Jeremy Doku are closing in on Manchester City comebacks but Pep Guardiola says he will manage their returns carefully.

De Bruyne has had the longest absence of the three having not featured since the opening-day win at Burnley while Doku and Haaland have been missing since early December.

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The trio’s return would give City a huge boost as they look to maintain their improved form which included their FIFA Club World Cup win in Saudi Arabia before Christmas.

Next up for City is Sunday’s FA Cup third-round clash with Championship side Huddersfield Town at the Etihad.

Guardiola said: “Jeremy feels really, really good and Kevin as well. Erling is also a little bit better but with him we have to be careful.

“We have to be patient and give them the right minutes. In the last two or three training sessions they have felt good and are improving. I don’t know about Sunday, or the game against Newcastle (next weekend) but for the rest they will be ready.”

On De Bruyne specifically, he added: “He was a long, long time so we have to be patient and give him exactly the right minutes. I would love Kevin to play the way he has the last eight years with me.

“I think he’s not going to change his qualities. A big injury, the biggest concern is to try and avoid a repeat. If the intention is I want to play today, we have to be careful and speak with him and the physios over the best process and the minutes.

“Kevin needs to accumulate weeks of training and minutes and not take a step back. He can train four, five, six sessions in a row.

“He can accumulate time in the training sessions, more important than 90 mins, 80 mins. Do it now and he will get injured again. It’s been a long time, no pre-season. He’s so fresh and has incredible desire, but we have to be careful.”

City have some selection worries for the weekend with six players unlikely to feature.

Kalvin Phillips, whose future has been a topic of some debate given his lack of playing time, has a heavy cold, as does Bernardo Silva, Matheus Nunes and third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson.

Defensive lynchpin Rodri is also missing following the death of his grandfather while John Stones remains sidelined.

Having come through the hectic festive period, City potentially have just four games in January but Guardiola is happy for the chance to rest and spend some valuable time with his players on the training ground.

“I think the Premier League took a great decision to make Boxing Day intense and then have a break,” he said.

“We won a lot even in the tough period. It is good now to have the FA Cup, an important game at Newcastle and then two weeks after to refresh our minds.

“I have more time for training that we do not have [normally] in the busy schedule. There are always things we have to improve.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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