Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is crossing his fingers that midfielder Kevin De Bruyne’s latest injury is not serious.
City’s 2-0 victory over Fulham in the Carabao Cup was overshadowed by De Bruyne limping off with an apparent knee problem with five minutes remaining after falling awkwardly in a clash with Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
The Belgium international was making only his second start of the season following knee ligament damage.
And Guardiola hopes De Bruyne will not be sidelined for long heading into a crucial period of the season.
“He’s being checked with the doctors so I don’t know right now (how he is),” he said.
“I think today Kevin is back, the Kevin we know. He spent a lot of time injured but made a huge effort in Donetsk against Shakhtar and played a few minutes against Spurs in a difficult situation because of the pitch and the physicality.
“Today again he was involved with everything offensively and defensively, so hopefully what happened in the last minutes is not serious.”
Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz, who netted twice, both impressed as City eased into the quarter-finals, where they will face Leicester or Southampton.
Guardiola insists regularly leaving out the teenagers from his Premier League team is one of the hardest parts of his job.
“You cannot imagine,” he said.
“There are no words to explain how tough it is. They make my job so easy on one side because it is a joy to train them but at the same time it is so difficult because they don’t play.”
Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic made only three changes from the defeat to Bournemouth at the weekend as he bids to find some continuity.
“It’s not so strange in this country that teams play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday,” he said.
“We have three games in nine days so in the end I try to respect the competition. We know we will play a second City team – if I can call it that when you have players like De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Danilo…
“But we try to play our best football and be competitive and pass to the next round. We try to show our best face.
“We’ve seen some kind of improvement in this game for sure. In the end I am unhappy with the result but there are at least some positive signs that I want to look to.”
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