Kevin De Bruyne returned to the Manchester City squad against Sheffield United after nearly five months out.
De Bruyne has been out of action since limping out of the opening-day win over Burnley, where he aggravated a hamstring issue that has kept him sidelined for almost five months.
But despite warming up for over 20 minutes, Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola has said he was never going to bring the Belgian on the pitch.
Asked if he was tempted to give De Bruyne a late cameo, Guardiola replied: “No. He’s almost close, but we ask him to come to the bench to start to be in the locker room. It’s three months [sic], a lot of time, since he’s been out. Being ready, but he’s close.
“He’s training good and he starts to get minutes and minutes to get his best. It’s incredible news. We are waiting for Jeremy [Doku], Erling [Haaland], John Stones. The second part of the season is already here.
“A month, January will come soon, disappear soon. We have three, maybe four games. After February, the Champions League is here. The last part of the season we need everyone. It’s incredible news that Kevin is back, and Erling as well and Jeremy as well.”