Kevin De Bruyne can appreciate why Raheem Sterling may be asking questions of his future at Manchester City, but the Belgian midfielder has urged his team-mate to accept rotation and see the bigger picture.
Speculation regarding a move away from the Etihad Stadium for Sterling is starting to build heading towards the winter transfer window, with starting berths under Pep Guardiola proving hard to come by.
The England international has admitted that, amid talk of interest from Barcelona, he may be tempted to take on a new challenge outside of the Premier League, but De Bruyne is hoping to see the 26-year-old stay put.
What has been said?
Asked about Sterling’s frustration ahead of a Champions League clash with Club Brugge on Tuesday, De Bruyne told reporters: “Rotation is important. Playing four competitions and mostly going far is a tough ask.
“I understand the frustration, I'm a player and you have some players who need more rhythm and maybe Raz needs more, I need that also.
“It's tough to play one game but it's the manager who has to make choices and it's hard. We have a group of 22, 23 internationals who are unbelievable. Whoever you pick will be right. Whenever the team plays good you can't say much as a player. We try to help each other.”
Is De Bruyne ready for action?Getty Images
Guardiola has taken to resting De Bruyne at times, despite the 30-year-old playmaker being a talismanic figure for City.
He has picked up unfortunate injuries on a regular basis in recent campaigns, for club and country, but claims to be clear of any fitness problems at present as he builds his way back up to full match sharpness.
De Bruyne said of his current condition: “In the Euros I was happy I could come back but the ankle injury happened. There's nothing I can do, I got tackles and my ligament snapped.
“I try to get back as best as possible. It took some time, it was a bit painful but I feel much better now and I'm very happy about that.
“I feel much much better. There’s still things that can go up. Even the last two-to-three months of last season I didn't train much.
“The last six months have been up and down, not much training. I was in pain when I came back. It was good to take time off after the Spurs game. I feel much better, I feel stronger.”
De Bruyne has taken in eight appearances for City across all competitions this season, with three goals recorded, and minutes against Brugge in midweek will see him reach 500 outings in club football.