Pep Guardiola says Kevin De Bruyne may benefit from his six-week injury layoff.

The Belgium midfielder returned to training this week and has been pain-free, with Guardiola set to make a late decision on whether he is ready to return against Everton on Saturday.

And Guardiola believes his absence has given him an ideal opportunity to recuperate after an intense 2017-18 season that saw him play 52 games for City across four competitions before heading to the World Cup in Russia with Belgium.

“I said in the beginning when he was injured that we will miss him,” Guardiola said. “It’s important because he has to compete with players who have done incredible so far.

“We have more players and can rotate but, of course, good news for him to come back.

“Kevin was exhausted last season, and he was incredible. After that he went to World Cup, then i felt he was tired. That’s why maybe. We don’t want him to be injured, but maybe it helps because now he will be fresh and play regularly.”

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Meanwhile, Guardiola has warned his players to expect a tough draw in the last-16 of the Champions League.

The ceremony takes place on Monday in Nyon, Switzerland, with City seeded after winning Group F.

It means we can draw either Atletico Madrid, Roma, Schalke or Ajax, and Guardiola is under no illusions about the size of the task that lies ahead.

“That is my feeling, but in last 16 I said it will be tough,” he said. “I don’t know who we will get in the draw, but I can assure you it will be tough.

“Atletico, Ajax, Roma, Schalke, it’s will be tough, and I know that. How we are in that moment in February with no injuries [will be key].

“I know exactly how tough our group was but people thought it was easy. You have to be calm and focused on your team.”