Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has confirmed Kevin De Bruyne will start their final Champions League group game against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
De Bruyne missed a month of action after contracting COVID-19 but made his return off the bench in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Watford.
The Premier League champions have already secured top spot in Group A after their 2-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain on matchday five.
Speaking at a media conference ahead of City’s trip to Germany, Guardiola revealed the Belgian will start the game, saying: “Kevin had the corona, was growing and after had the setback.
“It’s normal, the people who have the corona feel empty. Step by step he plays the minutes, tomorrow he will start and we’ll see how many minutes.”
Guardiola also confirmed several youth players will travel for the game, though he also made mention that five substitutions are allowed in the Champions League, two more than in Premier League games, suggesting they may come off the bench rather than start in the Red Bull Arena.
“They are fantastic young players. They need to settle but the potential is there,” he said. “Of course all the guys who play tomorrow want to win, for respect for Leipzig, and respect for Brugge and PSG.
“Hopefully tomorrow some of them can play – we have five subs, not three like here, so maybe we can use them.”
1 – Manchester City’s victory ensures they will finish top of their Champions League group for the fifth consecutive season – just the second English side to do so in the current format of the competition after Manchester United between 2006-07 and 2010-11. Dominant.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 24, 2021
The game will be played behind closed doors after the German state of Saxony was placed into a partial COVID-19 lockdown.
“In Germany the situation is not good,” the City boss added. “The authorities have decided. We still have to be careful. That is my concern. The situation is dangerous.
“We need to learn that the situation is not solved. Like the PM said, wear a mask, observe social distance and be careful.”
City left back Oleksandr Zinchenko also spoke at the media conference, and added: “It is sad news for both teams and the fans who wanted to go to the game and for the players as well.
“We just play for the fans but the main reason is for our health. I wish everyone is going to be healthy.”