Kevin De Bruyne suffered a hamstring injury during Manchester City’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.
De Bruyne hobbled off late in the first half at the Vitality Stadium, where his replacement Riyad Mahrez scored the only goal in the 55th minute – sending City back to the top of the Premier League, two points above Liverpool ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby.
Speaking after the match, Guardiola said the latest setback was not a recurrence of the knee injuries that have decimated the Belgium midfielder’s campaign.
Centre-back John Stones was also withdrawn early in the second period on his return from a groin complaint and the City manager said: “John, I think, is a precaution. I think Kevin has a little bit of a muscular problem, a hamstring problem.
“But when you play 25 games in 93 days it is a physiological issue. We don’t give players time to recover and with the rhythm we play we are demanding a lot.
“But we know if we lose we do not have a chance to win the title.”
De Bruyne offered an apparently more upbeat prognosis when he spoke to reporters in the mixed zone afterwards, describing the injury as “not so bad” but was unsure over whether he will be ready for next weekend’s home match against Watford.
Guardiola is not short of faith in the players who will have to pick up the slack in the event of another possible De Bruyne absence, having lavished praise on their performance against a disciplined Bournemouth side.
“Incredible – we made one of the best performances we have ever played in our time together,” he said.
“Ten [Bournemouth] players behind [the ball] in every movement and everyone was concentrated to control all aspects of the football.
“It was incredible, I am delighted. It is a joy and a pleasure to be part of this team. Incredible.”
Another brilliant showing from @Azinchenko17!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 2, 2019
Guardiola singled out David Silva for plaudits after the Spanish playmaker created Mahrez’s winner and he also hailed another assured showing from Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back.
“David was incredible in the first part of the season,” he said. “In the Champions League he was one of the reasons we qualified [for the knockout stages].
“After his [hamstring] injury he took a little bit more time to find his pace. But today, with his personality, he was incredible.”
On Ukraine international ZInchenko, Guardiola added: “I cannot put him out [of the team]. He is playing top, with the ball and without the ball
“The players play because they deserve it and Oleks, when he plays, he is always committed and with the ball he has incredible quality.”