Man City star midfielder returns and 'feeling good' ahead of Brighton and Everton

Kevin De Bruyne could return for Manchester City’s last two Premier League games of the season with less than two weeks to go to the Champions League final.

Pep Guariola's men could be boosted by return of midfielder Kevin De Bruyne for Brighton
Pep Guariola's men could be boosted by return of midfielder Kevin De Bruyne for Brighton

De Bruyne has missed City’s last two games with a muscle injury, giving City a scare ahead of the meeting with Chelsea in Porto on May 29.

But Guardiola said the 29-year-old has returned to training ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Brighton.

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“Kevin has trained in the last two days and is feeling good,” the City manager said.

“Everyone knows Kevin is important but we will see his level over the next few days and when he is ready to play.”

De Bruyne’s return to training means that Sergio Aguero is the only known absentee for Tuesday’s match.

With the Premier League title wrapped up, City’s attentions are already drifting towards Portugal but Guardiola wants no let-up in results, insisting the best way to prepare for the final is to put in strong performances against Brighton and then Everton at the Etihad on Sunday.

“The mood is really good,” he said. “They’ve been training really well. Everyone is focused.

“We’ve never been here before in the Champions League final. You don’t have to say anything. People know they have to maintain their rhythm to play the final in the best condition as possible.

“The best way to prepare is to play well, to play good, it’s the only way we know.”

While City could afford to take their foot off the pedal in the remaining league games, Chelsea are locked in a tight battle for Champions League places and go into a rematch against FA Cup winners Leicester on Tuesday night before travelling to Aston Villa at the weekend.

Asked if the need for results gave Thomas Tuchel’s side better preparation for the final, Guardiola said he was not interested in what Chelsea were doing.

“We have six days to prepare for the final after the Everton game, then we will go into details, but now we prepare for Brighton,” he said.

“For sure we are not preparing for the Champions League final if we don’t prepare for Brighton and Everton.

“We did not speak for one second about Chelsea. Tomorrow we play a game to win and that’s the best way to arrive to the final.”

Guardiola’s team-sheet on Friday night could have created the impression of a team happy to ease off – with third-choice goalkeeper Scott Carson making his City debut at the age of 35 while there was a rare appearance for Eric Garcia in a side sporting five changes.

Guardiola admitted the squad approached that game “more relaxed” after Manchester United’s home loss to Leicester last Tuesday night ended the title race, but insisted their focus had now returned.

“We spoke, had a day off,” he said of their title celebrations. “I told them to forget the football and enjoy your time with your family as a champion.

“We spoke in training that we have a routine, be focused. They’re training really good.

“In the game against Newcastle the people were more relaxed but I saw them today so focused. We’ll play the next one and prepare for the final. I have no doubts the people are incredibly committed to win the three games we still have.”

Ferran Torres was the hero of the Newcastle win as the Spaniard bagged his first Premier League hat-trick, leading to suggestions he could be Aguero’s long-term replacement.

It took Torres to 13 goals in 34 appearances for City this season, but Guardiola revealed the 21-year-old had taken time to settle in Manchester.

“Ferran was in an incredible mood when he arrived (then) in one period sad, upset with the world, with many situations and that’s why he didn’t play good,” Guardiola said. “When he changed his mind and he was open and he started to smile again always he played good.

“Football depends on the mood, the confidence of the players…When you start to complain all the time other guys will take your position. Football doesn’t wait. If you’re not in the right moment there will be another guy who will take your position. When you are positive, the guys are always playing good.”