Normally it’s exciting news when a player is making good progress in his recovery from injury and can return sooner than expected, but with Kevin De Bruyne it came with an eerie feeling of déjà vu.
Of course, it’s great to hear that Manchester City’s illustrious Belgian is on the mend. The Blues have been hit by injuries to several key players at the start of the season with Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish, John Stones and Mateo Kovacic all spending time on the sidelines.
Losing De Bruyne after just 20 minutes into the new season and for the rest of 2023 is certainly sad. But if Pep Guardiola’s latest comments prove anything wrong, he won’t be sitting out the rest of the year after all.
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When Guardiola was asked if De Bruyne was still involved, he said, “(He) comes at different times, before training for his treatment, or after training. During training people who come to training “They are going to require the attention of our backroom staff and physios.” With your friends.
“I see him every day, he’s getting better, he’s in a good mood. Hopefully he’ll be back sooner than we expect.”
Obviously it will be better for everyone the sooner De Bruyne is back. Guardiola will have his best attacking midfield outlet back, De Bruyne will get back to doing what he loves, his teammates will get their captain back and supporters will get the chance to see the magician in action once again .
Despite recent ups and downs, City haven’t really struggled to win without De Bruyne, but they have been far from their exciting best and that’s no surprise. With Ilkay Gundogan departing in the summer and De Bruyne succumbing to another hamstring injury, City have lost two-thirds of the midfield that claimed the treble. The Stones haven’t even played a minute of football, let alone this one.
The sooner De Bruyne returns the sooner City will return to their peak form but that should not mean sending him back before he is ready. De Bruyne may recover ahead of schedule and make a full recovery, great in that case! But it’s hard not to be concerned about the possibility of him being deported soon.
The heartbreaking hamstring injury that De Bruyne suffered in the first half of the Champions League final was initially set to keep him out of action for the opening weeks of the season. He went on a pre-season tour of Asia, but did not play with any friends and barely trained on the field, instead continuing his recovery with gym work.
But then suddenly he came back into action. De Bruyne was dropped from the bench in the Community Shield defeat to Arsenal and was then in the starting eleven for the opening Premier League match against Burnley. It appears that his return has given him a huge boost, especially since he became the boss in the early stages. He bowled several dangerous balls into the box in his short time on the pitch, one of which resulted in an opener.
But the blessing turned into a curse when De Bruyne stepped up and he immediately knew his time on the pitch was up. As was the case in Istanbul, the same hamstring injury with which he had been playing painfully for weeks was ruptured.
The question arises whether he was sent back so soon. A longer period of rest and recovery would have helped him make a full recovery rather than starting over again. De Bruyne is now 32 and has a lot of wear and tear that needs to be managed with care as injuries are becoming increasingly difficult to recover from.
City cannot afford to make the same mistake again, firstly for the sake of De Bruyne’s career but also because any further setbacks could see him miss a significant amount of the season. Hopefully he can return to action sooner than expected but is the rush really worth the risk?