Manchester City have included Kevin De Bruyne in their 23-man squad for the FIFA Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia later this month.
The Belgian has not played for the Citizens since sustaining a hamstring injury, which required surgery, on the opening day of the Premier League season away against Burnley on August 11.
De Bruyne’s hamstring troubles began earlier this year and he was forced to play through the pain as Pep Guardiola’s side followed up triumphs in the Premier League and FA Cup with Champions League glory to win a historic treble.
The playmaker was forced off in the first half of City’s 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in the Champions League final in May, and after aggravating the issue against Burnley three months later, he has since likened his injured hamstring to a “wet kitchen towel”.
Last month, De Bruyne revealed that his recovery is “going very well” and he has since suggested that he could return to action at some stage in the New Year.
However, De Bruyne seemingly has an outside chance of featuring at an earlier date as the playmaker has been named in Man City’s travelling squad to the Middle East for the Club World Cup, according to official FIFA documents.
Guardiola’s side are due to travel to Saudi Arabia after their Premier League fixture at home to Crystal Palace on December 16, and will take on either Club Leon of Mexico or Japanese outfit Urawa Red Diamonds in their semi-final in Jeddah just three days later.
Despite De Bruyne’s inclusion, the Manchester Evening News claims that the playmaker will not be fit enough to represent the Citizens in either of their two games – the semi-final and either a third-place playoff or the final.
Guardiola intends to slowly ease De Bruyne back into the first-team fold, telling reporters last month: “He has to recover and make a step back again. Recover well, prepare well and I’m not suspecting after one week that he will be perfect, but he needs time.
“From the beginning or on the bench, he always is a good weapon for us. I am not going to discover the quality from Kevin.”
“If he said (he will be back) January, it will be January,” Guardiola added. “I would have loved to have him all season but now he has tough injury and surgery and he said end of December or New Year, so it will be a happy New Year for everyone.”
De Bruyne is City’s longest-serving player within Guardiola’s current squad and has been an hugely influential figure during his eight years at the Etihad Stadium, contributing with 96 goals and 153 assists in 358 appearances across all competitions.
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Manchester City’s 23-man squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Ederson, Stefan Ortega, Scott Carson
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Josko Gvardiol, Manuel Akanji, Ruben Dias, John Stones, Nathan Ake, Sergio Gomez, Rico Lewis
Midfielders: Rodri, Kalvin Phillips, Mateo Kovacic, Matheus Nunes, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne
Attackers: Oscar Bobb, Phil Foden, Jeremy Doku, Jack Grealish, Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland