Kevin De Bruyne, who just two days ago was carried off a Premier League field on a stretcher, with his leg in an air cast, is starting for Manchester City on Tuesday.
City XI | Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Stones, Delph, Fernandinho, Silva (c), De Bruyne, Sterling, Sane, Aguero
Subs | Bravo, Bernardo, Danilo, Mangala, Gundogan, Yaya Toure, Zinchenko
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 2, 2018
De Bruyne was writhing in pain on Sunday after being tackled from behind by Jason Puncheon in stoppage time of Manchester City’s 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace. He was carried to the side of the Selhurst Park pitch on a stretcher.
Look at this puncheon tackle on de bruyne pic.twitter.com/JDj4IJOsGr
— Sazi⚡️ (@Anasaziiiii) December 31, 2017
After the field had cleared, De Bruyne walked the length of the pitch and back down the tunnel with his arms around two members of City’s medical staff. He could only put partial weight on his injured right leg.
— Simone Eterno (@Simon_Forever) December 31, 2017
There was immediate worry that De Bruyne’s injury could be serious – that he could miss months, if not the rest of the season. But he was reportedly walking without aid after returning to the visitors’ locker room.
Incredibly, the Belgian midfielder has recovered in time to face Watford on Tuesday. David Silva (personal leave) and John Stones (muscle injury) are also back for City, which has its first-choice 11 – sans Benjamin Mendy – together for the first time since November.
Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus has been diagnosed with an MCL injury, and could miss 1-2 months. But De Bruyne’s instant return to full – or full enough – fitness is a huge relief for City.
The Premier League leaders and Watford kick off at 8 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) at the Etihad.