Soccer-De Bruyne expected to play at Bournemouth as City look to keep pressure on Liverpool

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Everton - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - February 10, 2024 Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne in action REUTERS/Carl Recine

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Pep Guardiola expects midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to travel to Bournemouth on Saturday, four days after he sat out their 1-0 victory over Brentford with what the Manchester City manager called "niggles" in his hamstring.

"He is good. Not injured," Guardiola told reporters on Friday. "I don't know if he is 100% but we took a good decision (against Brentford). We didn't take a risk. People would ask why he didn't play. He didn't feel comfortable.

"The day after the game he didn't train and yesterday everyone was off, but he trained by himself. Today we will assess. I am sure he will travel."

The 32-year-old Belgian missed five months after hamstring surgery but had been excellent in his eight appearances in all competitions since his return.

City can put pressure on leaders Liverpool in the jam-packed title race with a win on Saturday. Guardiola's team have 56 points, four behind Liverpool but with a game in hand. They are just a point ahead of Arsenal.

Manchester United's new co-owner Jim Ratcliffe said this week that he hopes to get the better of rivals Manchester City and "knock them off their perch."

Asked if he finds Ratcliffe's reference to City flattering, Guardiola said: "It's the truth.

"They will be closer to us. Always when we have been below teams I have admired them and said, 'What do I have to do to be close and challenge them?'" he added. "This is the real competitive people they want to be.

"When we were below and United were winning we were watching and admiring them. We learn from them. In the days of Sir Alex Ferguson and the generation from Roy Keane, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville, all the big players were there, I am pretty sure then City admired them and wanted to be there. Now we are there. So that's why I had the feeling they would be back."

Jack Grealish and Josko Gvardiol are not yet ready to return from injury, Guardiola said, adding "it's closer for them."

(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Toby Davis)

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