Kevin De Bruyne has made a welcome return to training at Manchester City after being sidelined with knee ligament damage since mid-August.
The Belgium international, who starred for his country at World Cup 2018 as they secured a third-place finish in Russia, suffered an untimely injury in training.
He had taken in just one domestic outing at that stage, with City having opened their 2018-19 campaign with a 2-0 victory away at Arsenal.’
It was initially suggested that De Bruyne was facing up to at least three months on the sidelines, in what was a serious blow to Pep Guardiola’s plans.
City were, however, always confident that the 27-year-old could be brought back into the fold ahead of schedule.
De Bruyne, meanwhile, was quick to state that he intended to be back on the field in time for a derby date with Manchester United on November 11.
He should be well up to speed by then if his presence back on the training field is anything to go by.
Guardiola revealed ahead of Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Brighton that he expected to have the Belgian back soon, saying: “Yeah, Kevin is making the last steps [in his recovery]. He could start training in next few days, doing part of the sessions. Everything is going well.”
De Bruyne will not be rushed back into action, with City aware of the need to ease him into their plans and avoid taking any risks.
They have another international break coming up, which should give them the chance to work on the fitness of an important figure.
There are two outings to come before then, though, with Hoffenheim set to be faced in the Champions League on Tuesday.
City then head to Anfield on Sunday for a crunch clash with fellow Premier League title hopefuls Liverpool.
De Bruyne will likely be restricted to a watching brief for that encounter, but his return to action may not be too far off as he prepares to provide Guardiola’s side with a timely boost in their quest for major silverware across multiple competitions.