Massive Man City blow as Kevin De Bruyne left out of Belgium squad due to injury

The Manchester City midfielder has struggled with fitness issues all season.

Kevin De Bruyne has been left out of the Belgium squad after suffering what has been described as a 'minor groin issue'.

Belgium manager Domenico Tedesco confirmed his 25-man squad for the March international break in which his side face the Republic of Ireland and England, both of which are friendlies. De Bruyne was a surprise absence and looks to have been struggling with yet another fitness issue.

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“He’s been playing with a minor groin issue during the last games," Tedesco told reporters of his decision to omit De Bruyne. "Yesterday I spoke to the doctor and Kevin and we decided that the risk is too big. It's better to give him time to recover well at City and then have him ready for the Euros.“

There have been no reports of an issue from City's side in recent days, with De Bruyne starting the 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield and playing 69 minutes before being replaced by Mateo Kovacic. That the midfielder reacted angrily towards manager Pep Guardiola suggested he felt okay to keep playing.

De Bruyne has been struggling with fitness issues all season and missed the first four months of the campaign after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring issue in the opening league game against Burnley. He returned during the 5-0 FA Cup win over Huddersfield Town but has seen minutes managed carefully, starting just seven times since and completing 90 minutes on five occasions.

Guardiola has been open about plans to manage the 32-year-old's minutes and warned that over-playing could risk another serious injury. With both of Belgium's games being friendlies, it is possible that it could be a precaution and Tedesco's admission that they want him fit for this summer's European Championships would suggest as much.

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Fellow City star Jeremy Doku has been named in the 25-man squad and will join up with his international teammates after Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final clash against Newcastle United. Belgium face the Republic of Ireland on Saturday, March 23 before meeting England at Wembley the following Tuesday.

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