Pep Guardiola has backed Kevin De Bruyne to "show himself he's back" with the Belgian set to start for Manchester City against RB Leipzig.
De Bruyne made his first appearance for the club against Watford on Saturday since contracting the coronavirus at the start of November.
It continued an up-and-down year for the Belgian, who also suffered a facial injury during the Champions League final, before damaging ligaments in his ankle at Euro 2020.
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Guardiola says that the influential midfielder must "fight" to earn his place back in the team, but the Manchester City manager is certain that De Bruyne will soon be back up to speed.
"He has to come back and fight for a position like everyone else," Guardiola said ahead of Manchester City's trip to Leipzig.
"But Kevin [De Bruyne] doesn’t have to show absolutely anything to me. He has to come back being himself and show himself he’s back, and do what he has to do. Like he has done the last five or six years, every single three days.
“Kevin got [Covid-19] – he was growing in his physical condition [before] and everything and then it was a setback. It’s normal because the people who suffer corona in the next days, they feel so empty. So now it is step-by-step - he played the first 30 minutes [at Watford]. On Tuesday he will start and we’ll see how many minutes he can play.”
Manchester City have already progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners, and Guardiola has been able to include five development squad players in his travelling party to Germany.
Gabriel Jesus has not travelled having been injured during the encounter with Watford by a challenge from defender Craig Cathcart.
That may solve one selection issue for Guardiola, with competition for places in Manchester City's squad a positive, according to the Spaniard.
“Of course the competition is so necessary in the team and he knows it, but Bernardo [Silva] knows it, and [Ilkay] Gündogan knows it, and all the wingers and strikers know it.
"They know they have to play good, playing five minutes, 10 minutes or 90 minutes, and that’s all. I know all of them, they don’t have to show me anything.
“They have to show it for themselves, to play good because they have to - they have the quality to do it for themselves, for the team, for their mates, for everyone.”
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