By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Kevin De Bruyne is set to return in March after scans showed on Thursday that he will be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks.
The Belgium international was stretchered off the pitch with his knee in a brace late in Manchester City’s League Cup semi-final triumph over Everton on Wednesday night.
There were immediate fears that he could be out for the rest of the season but City manager Manuel Pellegrini delivered an optimistic post-match update and that was corroborated when he was assessed by the club again on Thursday.
According to De Bruyne’s agent, the player has sustained knee ligament and ankle ligament damage which will keep him out of action until March.
“Kevin will be out for at least six weeks but it is too early to know more at this stage,” Patrick De Koster told the Guardian. “Of course he is a bit sad that he will miss so many important games like the Capital One Cup Final and Champions League but Kevin would not be Kevin if wasn’t already thinking about playing again for City.”
The latest Manchester City injury news means that, although the playmaker will miss at least 11 matches, he could be back in mid March in what is a huge boost to the club’s title hopes as well as their chances of progressing in the cup competitions.
Second-half substitute De Bruyne had scored one and created the tie-clincher for Sergio Aguero as City came from 1-0 down in the second leg to win 3-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate.
But De Bruyne’s knee buckled as he fell to the ground at the 88-minute mark and he screamed in agony as he slumped to the turf.
The attacking midfielder had lengthy treatment before leaving the pitch on a stretcher to muted, concerned applause.
“I’m optimistic he won’t be out for the rest of the season,” Pellegrini said afterward. “We’ll see how important the damage is. It’s not the cruciate ligament.”
“The doctor thinks, but he cannot be sure, that it’s a problem in his medial ligament.”
City will face Liverpool in the League Cup final at Wembley on 28 February.