Kevin De Bruyne has had enough time off and now he wants to help fire Manchester City to more silverware, but says he wasn’t “exhausted” after a busy year.
The Belgium midfielder missed the first two months of the season with a knee ligament injury and was then hit by another knee injury in his other leg, three matches into his comeback.
City boss Pep Guardiola had claimed De Bruyne finished last season “exhausted” after playing 52 matches for club and country, but the 27-year-old disagreed and has been desperate to get back playing.
“I wasn’t exhausted,” he told reporters. “I think in general people need a good summer break, sometimes we play for 11-and-a-half months at a time and there is not enough time to rest. I had a rest of about three weeks — after 12 months of playing. Is that short? Probably, yes. But I felt okay to come back. It’s not a lot to say, I came back and trained and was out after one week — it’s just the way it goes.”
De Bruyne played his first Premier League minutes of the season in City’s 3-1 victory over Everton, while Sergio Aguero, who had missed the last four matches, was on the bench.
The pair are returning at the right time with City playing six games in the next 19 days as they try to close the one-point deficit on leaders Liverpool.
“They did brilliantly without me, but I’m sure they’ll be happy that I’m back,” De Bruyne added. “It’s just how it is, they have had to manage with the players who are there and unfortunately sometimes players are out. The guys did brilliantly and now I’ll try to be at my top level to help them out.
“It’s a busy period because everyone plays. Then after Christmas it’s just people who are playing in Europe. At the moment it’s just busy for everyone.”
City have also been without David Silva and Benjamin Mendy of late, but De Bruyne has been impressed at how City’s young squad have maintained their form.
“They did really smartly by buying young players who can get better,” he said. “We’ve a squad of 21 or 22 players and it doesn’t matter who plays — they have regular games in the team.
“We are fully there for the four trophies. You know you are going to get injuries, but you hope to keep them as few as possible. If you want to try to win the lot, you need players to do that.”
De Bruyne is expected to start against Leicester City in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarterfinal to get more minutes as he tries to return to full fitness.