Manchester City could be without their star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne for next week's Premier League title showdown against Liverpool, after the player was ruled out of Sunday's clash against Southampton with a knock.
The 27-year-old has already had two spells on the sidelines following knee problems this season, and now faces a race against time to be fit to face the Reds on Thursday. The Belgium international played an integral part in his side's Premier League-winning campaign last season, contributing eight goals and sixteen assists in the competition.
According to the Mirror, De Bruyne has been complaining of muscle soreness since making his return to the Manchester City side, and when combined with the knock that has seen him miss the Southampton game, he certainly looks to be a doubt for the Liverpool match next week. The Reds are currently top of the table, ten points clear of City who are third with a game in hand.
Should Pep Guardiola's side triumph over the Saints on Sunday, they will move to within seven points of Liverpool, and could close the gap to just four if they manage to overturn Jürgen Klopp's unbeaten side at the Etihad. The Reds powered past Arsenal 5-1 on Saturday, and head into the new year with an excellent challenge of winning their first Premier League title.
City will be mindful of Liverpool's reputation for throwing away golden opportunities to win the league, and will be hopeful that a big win over their title rivals will give them a massive psychological boost in the second half of the season. De Bruyne will certainly be key to City's title aspirations, and they'll be desperate to have him fit for Thursday evening's face-off.
In other news, City are likely to have Fernandinho back in time to face the Reds next week. The Brazilian midfielder has been out for three weeks with thigh problems, and has been forced to sit on the sidelines as his side have lost two out of three matches. Guardiola will be desperate to have the 33-year-old back for the match, knowing that a loss could end his side's title hopes.