Fit-again De Bruyne ready for Manchester City’s new campaign

Kevin De Bruyne feels ready for the new campaign after playing a full part in Manchester City’s pre-season tour of Asia.

The Belgium midfielder, the key player in City’s 2018 title victory, played only a bit-part in last season’s treble success due to knee and muscular injuries.

But the 28-year-old now hopes those issues are behind him after proving to be one of the stand-out players of the four games City have played in the Far East over the past fortnight.

De Bruyne, who scored a goal and set up another in Saturday’s 3-1 win over sister club Yokohama F Marinos in Japan, said: “I’m fine. What happened last year happens to everybody. I have been a professional for 11 years now and had one season where I had some injuries.

“But by the end of the year I still played 32 games while a lot of players only do that every year. I just get on with it.

“Now I feel good. I’m happy I could play a whole pre-season. I’ve played four games.”

City faced familiar opposition in West Ham and Wolves in the Premier League Asia Trophy in China but both games lacked intensity and they then enjoyed a comfortable 6-1 win over Hong Kong side Kitchee.

The Yokohama clash was different, with the side currently second in the J-League providing more of a test in a vibrant atmosphere at the Nissan Stadium, the venue which hosted the 2002 World Cup final.

“It was a really good game,” said De Bruyne, who opened the scoring in the 19th minute. “I was very impressed how Yokohama played.

“They’re right in the middle of their season so physically they are much better than us and they gave us a good game.

“I’m happy with the way we performed here. We’ve had a tough schedule the past two weeks. We needed this game to get more rhythm and it was a good game to end the pre-season.”

De Bruyne’s strike was quickly cancelled out by Keita Endo but the Belgian played in Sterling to put City back ahead before half-time. Lukas Nmecha bundled in a third late on.

City now return home to prepare for the Community Shield against Liverpool at Wembley next Sunday.

The tour started badly with the initial flight to China delayed by two days but De Bruyne feels the trip has been beneficial.

He said: “It is always a tough ask because obviously you travel a lot and you need to do a lot of commercial activities, and in another sense you need to prepare yourself physically.

“Obviously August is a bit more quiet. I think it starts really in September for us when all the European games come but obviously next week is a game where you can win a trophy, so we want to be ready to play a good game against Liverpool. We’ll see what happens.”

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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