Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne admits he is feeling the effects of the club’s outstanding season so far.
The Belgian may have been one of the star performers in City’s formidable challenge for four trophies but there could be a cost.
De Bruyne has missed only three of City’s 39 games in all competitions and he concedes he was feeling tired during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Burnley.
“I was feeling it from the first minute,” he said. “I’ve said it before – you feel great for 10 games, then you feel OK for 10 games, and then the rest you feel like s***.
“You know, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We’ve only got 15 or 16 players available at the moment so we need to get through it.”
Injuries to Benjamin Mendy, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, John Stones, David Silva, Fabian Delph, Phil Foden and Lukas Nmecha restricted City boss Pep Guardiola to just six substitutes at Turf Moor.
City at least will have some respite this week as they are not in action again until Leicester visit the Etihad Stadium next Saturday.
That is the Premier League leaders’ longest gap between games since the November international break and Guardiola has decided to give all his squad three days off.
“It will do us a lot of good,” said De Bruyne. “I’m going away, it doesn’t matter where!”
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Despite feeling jaded, City should have claimed all three points at the weekend having dominated throughout.
Danilo gave them a first-half lead but they were unable to add to it – with Raheem Sterling spuring one gilt-edged chance from three yards – and Johann Berg Gudmundsson claimed a late equaliser.
De Bruyne said: “Nobody is complaining about the way we played. I think we played really well and we should have scored more, but it happens and it’s not even bad defending, it’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“Obviously it’s very hard and we haven’t got any players left, so maybe we feel a little bit of tiredness which makes it a little bit more difficult, but I thought the way we played was exceptional.”
Captain Vincent Kompany, who also felt the break “couldn’t come at a better time”, agreed that City did play well.
Kompany said: “We’re disappointed, of course, but some of our play was exceptional. We dominated but didn’t score our chances and you get punished by a team that really stuck to their gameplan.
“It was exceptional the way we still managed to get out, the way we created chances from everywhere, right from the goalkeeper – but then you don’t want to miss in front of an open goal.
“So, we’re disappointed but the performance was sufficient to make sure we’ll win more games than draw them in the future.”