Manchester City have been dealt a considerable blow after Kevin De Bruyne was ruled out for up to six weeks with a hamstring injury suffered in Wednesday’s win over Aston Villa.
The midfielder was forced off after 59 minutes and will be unavailable for up to 10 games. These include matches against their title rivals Liverpool and Manchester United, and the Champions League last-16 opening leg at Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Pep Guardiola said: “The doctor had to review the scan this morning, and he will be out between four and six weeks. It is a big blow. But we have to move forward. I am not saying that nobody doesn’t know how important he is.
“Unfortunately for him and for us, he will be out for an important part of the season and we have to find a solution because everyone is struggling in this [pandemic] situation and we have to adapt.”
City are second on 38 points, two behind the leaders, United, with a game in hand . For Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round game at Cheltenham they will also be without Kyle Walker, who is injured,and Sergio Agüero, who has Covid.
“To demand they are fit for 11 months playing every three days impossible,” Guardiola said. “There are injuries at all the clubs. We knew it, we’ve tried to avoid it, we have better medical support to take care of the players but they are human beings. This amount of competitions, the body says it’s enough.”
Regarding Walker, whose problem also occurred against Villa, Guardiola said: “Kyle had a big impact kick to the hips. He is not available for tomorrow but maybe the next game.”
Aguero’s positive test is the latest setback for City’s record scorer. “What we wish is for him to feel better,” Guardiola said. “He felt uncomfortable for two or three days after the positive test – he was tired and had the symptoms, but he feels well and we want him to come back. For a long time we’ve missed our best striker. Like with Kevin we will have to manage until they come back.”