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Knee injury sees Chelsea’s Kevin de Bruyne return to London

Jul 22, 2013, 4:25 PM EDT

Kevin de Bruyne AP

There are better times to come down with an injury than in the preseason, when you’re returning to a club that loaned you out, while you’re trying to impress a new manager who will decide what role you’ll play on a talent rich squad. True, Kevin de Bruyne’s problem is happening before the games actually count, but if his knee injury is more serious than originally feared, the Chelsea attacker may be left playing catch up when the season starts next month.

The 22-year-old is on his way back to London from Asia, where Chelsea are in the middle of preseason preparations that include a 4-1 Sunday win over a Malaysia XI in Kuala Lampur. Unfortunately for the Blues, that match saw de Bruyne leave early after injuring his right knee on this goal:

Chelsea’s decided to send de Bruyne back to England to have his knee evaluated. If the assessment proves merely precautionary, the young Belgian will rejoin the team in the United States ahead of the upcoming Champions Cup.

Chelsea manager José Mourinho, on de Bruyne’s injury:

“When he was on the floor and asking for a change, we thought the worst …”

“But the first assessment by the doctor was that it was not the ligaments for sure, and if it is something in the meniscus then it has to be a very small injury.

“So we believe it is not an important injury and hopefully it isn’t because the kid is a fantastic player.”

Last year while on loan at Werder Bremen, de Bruyne posted 10 goals and nine assists in 32 Bundesliga games, numbers that naturally boosted expectations of what the former Genk player could do if kept at Stamford Bridge. Through preseason, the Belgian international’s made his mark, with Mourinho describing him as a player who “is going to be a key man on the pitch.” On Sunday, he started between Eden Hazard and Bertrand Traoré in the attacking three of Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation.

That regard may be the reason Chelsea’s being so cautious. Just as Manchester United left Wayne Rooney at home when the attacker came up with a hamstring problem, the Blues are getting de Bruyne back to London so that, if the evaluation does find something, he can be treated at home.

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