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Pep Guardiola Says Kevin De Bruyne Injury 'Much Better' Ahead of Liverpool

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2019

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gives instructions to Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 15, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said Kevin De Bruyne is in "much better" condition ahead of Thursday's clash with Liverpool in the Premier League. 

De Bruyne's season has been significantly disrupted by injury problems and he sat out the 3-1 win over Southampton on Sunday with another problem.

That cast doubts over whether or not he would be able to feature in the huge game at the Etihad Stadium against the Reds, although Guardiola said on the eve of the match the Belgian is in contention to play in this encounter, per Jamie Jackson of the Guardian.

"He trained today but tomorrow [Wednesday] we need another check in the morning but he is much better," Guardiola said.

City captain Vincent Kompany said despite the regular layoffs in this campaign, De Bruyne is still capable of helping the team:

Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL

Should Manchester City throw Kevin De Bruyne straight back in against Liverpool? More on De Bruyne's fitness: https://t.co/YufWYc4UJQ https://t.co/rkHyAKpGWU

However, Kristof Terreur of Het Laatste Nieuws suggested the player himself believes the match will come too early for him:

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Kristof Terreur 📰🎥 @HLNinEngeland

@Sammy_Goal Remember the mind game that De Bruyne played when I asked him if Liverpool was his first goal in 2018. Just shook his head: “Too early.”

Following on from a sensational 2017-18, when De Bruyne was the star man as City romped to the Premier League title with a record points total, this term has been one of huge frustration for the midfielder.

He has only been able to start one Premier League game due to injury, and when he has featured in cameo appearances or cup competitions, De Bruyne has looked rusty.

While City have exceptional midfielders on their books in Bernardo Silva, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, not having De Bruyne for the overwhelming majority of the campaign is a major blow.

These numbers sum up just how crucial a player the former Chelsea man was for Guardiola's team in their historic previous season:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Kevin De Bruyne for Man City in the Premier League in 2017/18: 🔵 Most chances created (106) 🔵 Most tackles won (62) 🔵 Most assists (16) 🔵 Most goals from outside the box (5) Huge miss. https://t.co/PiJ5M7WXjm

For City, the clash with Liverpool is enormous, as they seek to close the gap to the Merseyside club in the chase for the Premier League title.

Both managers have been especially complimentary about their opponent in the buildup to this contest:

BT Sport Score @btsportscore

Two great managers 🙌 Identical opinions on their next opponent 👀 But who is right in this case? 🤔 #BTSportScore https://t.co/bwtmuNXa26

A stunning spell of form over Christmas for the Reds has left them seven points clear of Guardiola's side, who have suffered recent defeats to Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Leicester City. The City boss said expectations on his team have been lessened as a result.

"It is Liverpool, the best team in all England in history," he added. "We can beat them. I know today nobody trusts us but it is what it is. They are in the moment the best team in Europe, in the consistency, the way they control the details in their game."

Having missed the Southampton game and seemingly long spells of the preparations for this Liverpool match, it would be a surprise if De Bruyne was in the XI for this one. If he is fit enough to be on the bench, then he would give Guardiola a tremendous option late in the game.

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