Pep Guardiola says he cannot afford to give Kevin De Bruyne a rest over the Christmas period as Manchester City try to close the gap on leaders Liverpool at the top of the Premier League.
Starting with third-placed Southampton on Saturday, City face five matches in the next 15 days, including away clashes at Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, Everton and Chelsea.
City are currently ninth in the Premier League and Guardiola says that De Bruyne, who was rested for their last four Champions League matches, will be needed if they are to cut an eight-point deficit to the top.
“He is so important for us, he is not going to rest,” Guardiola said. “He rested in the Champions League, he rested in other games – in previous weeks he just played the Premier League games and right now we need him.”
Sergio Aguero continued his recovery from knee surgery in the summer and the Argentinian striker could be again on the bench for the clash at St Mary’s.
The 32-year-old played the final 15 minutes of Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with West Brom, but Guardiola said that he only returned to training on Friday.
“After the game he could not train,” the City boss said. “Yesterday he didn’t train. Today he trained and trained really well but I don’t know how many minutes [he can play].
“It is important that he can make training sessions so it was unfortunate after the game that he could not.
“It wasn’t anything about the knee but it was another position and today he trained.”