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De Bruyne 'out for a while' as Guardiola counts the cost of Man City's win at Bournemouth

18:12 GMT 02/03/2019
Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City 2018-19
The Belgium international midfielder is heading back to the treatment table but in more positive news, John Stones does not have "a big problem"

Pep Guardiola has conceded that Manchester City are set to be without Kevin De Bruyne “for a while”, but insists a knock picked up by John Stones is “not a big problem”.

The reigning Premier League champions moved back to the top of the table on Saturday with a 1-0 win away at Bournemouth.

Victory was most welcome, but it came at some cost.

De Bruyne was forced off shortly before half-time, before Stones joined him back in the dressing room shortly after the restart.

Guardiola admits that he is set to lose a Belgium international playmaker for a third time this season, but he is confident that an England international defender will return to his plans shortly.

The City boss told BBC Sport: “Vincent Kompany wasn’t 100% and John Stones does not have a big problem, it was a precaution.

“Kevin will be out for a while with a muscular problem, hamstring.”

Quizzed as to why these fitness issues are hampering his plans, Guardiola said: “We demand a lot of the players without giving them the time to rest physiologically, that is why it is incredible.

“No matter what happens this season they deserve my admiration.”

While Guardiola may have to shuffle his pack for future outings, he boasts enough quality in his squad to counter the absence of those on the treatment table.

Riyad Mahrez replaced De Bruyne against Bournemouth and proved to be the match-winner as he netted the only goal of the game.

David Silva teed him up for that strike, matching the Premier League assist haul of David Beckham in the process, and City did just about enough to get over the line.

They have now secured battling 1-0 wins in back-to-back fixtures, with Guardiola quick to hail the spirit being shown by his players in a bid to defend their English top-flight crown.

He added: “We made one of the best performances we have played, they were very organised.

“But they didn’t have one shot, we defended well from throw-ins and free-kicks.

“We created a few chances, people should understand how difficult it is to attack 11 players [who are defending]. Thanks to the players, they are absolutely incredible.”