Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted that key player David Silva could yet be granted more leave to spend time with his family after recent personal problems, stating that football will always take a back seat to such issues.
Having missed four games in all competition since mid December, Silva was back in the team that beat Watford at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night, leading the side as captain.
Speaking after the game, Guardiola revealed his delight to have the Spanish maestro playing, but explained that Silva could yet be granted another leave of absence should he need it.
"We are very happy David Silva is back with us. We don't know how long he will be with us, but you saw again today he essential player for us," the manager commented (via ManCity.com).
"David is free to stay or to leave whenever he needs to. It depends.
"He wants to stay and help us and because he loves to play for City, but family is the most important thing in life. I would never push him. If we drop points because he is not with us, so be it - family is everything and must come first."
Following a knee injury to Gabriel Jesus on New Year's Eve, Guardiola has also now been able to shed more light on the expected recovery timeframe for the Brazilian, placing his expected absence at somewhere between four and six weeks.
Kevin de Bruyne was another who was expected to miss the Watford clash after being on the receiving end of a heavy tackle from Crystal Palace winger Jason Puncheon two days earlier, but the Belgian, stretchered off at Selhurst Park, was determined to play.
"[Kevin] told me he wanted to play tonight. He was in pain because it was a kick he received, but if he wants to play, I want him to play," Guardiola explained.
"Nothing will change my opinion about his quality, everyone knows about his quality. Kevin wanted to play. Everyone will try to follow his desire."