(REUTERS) - Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne will not be rested in the coming weeks as he is crucial to the club's hopes as they struggle to score goals this season, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday (Dec 18).
City are ninth in the Premier League, eight points behind leaders Liverpool, and have four games over the next 10 days, including a League Cup quarter-final at Arsenal.
De Bruyne has played 90 minutes in each of City's last seven league matches and also played twice for Belgium last month.
Asked if the midfielder would be rested for Saturday's trip to Southampton, Guardiola told reporters: "No, right now, no. He's too important for us.
"He's not going to rest. He rested in the Champions League, he rested in other games in the previous weeks... Right now we need him."
With City's main strikers struggling to score, Guardiola is relying heavily on his midfielders and wingers for goals.
Argentine striker Sergio Aguero has yet to open his account in the league this season, with injuries limiting his time on the pitch, while Gabriel Jesus has only netted twice.
Guardiola said City must create more chances and compared the number of goals they have scored with how many they had at this stage of their title-winning seasons under the Spaniard.
"The reality is comparing the 40 goals we scored in the first 12 fixtures in the year when we won our first Premier League (in 2018), 36 for our second title (in 2019) and last season, we had scored 35 by this stage. This year we have 18.
"Last season we scored more goals than the champions (Liverpool) but unfortunately we conceded too much. We have to score more, everybody knows that, but it doesn't depend on one specific player," he added.
"It is not just the responsibility of the strikers... Everybody is involved to create more clear chances."