Refs need to protect players - Guardiola issues plea after De Bruyne injury

Kevin De Bruyne appears to have avoided a serious injury against Crystal Palace, but Pep Guardiola wants more protection for players.

Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne was injured after a challenge from Jason Puncheon.   -  Getty Images

Pep Guardiola urged referees to give better protection to all Premier League players after Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne escaped a serious injury from a crude Jason Puncheon tackle on Sunday.

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City was looking to catch Crystal Palace on the break late on in Sunday's 0-0 draw, with Ederson saving a Luka Milivojevic penalty just a few moments earlier.

De Bruyne released the ball midway through the City half and was caught late by a very strong tackle by Puncheon, who injured himself in the process.

The Belgium international was initially carried off the pitch on a stretcher with his leg in a brace, but he was soon seen ambling down the touchline with the support of City's medical staff.

And while it looks as though De Bruyne has avoided a potentially lengthy spell on the sidelines, Guardiola believes more should be done to protect players from unnecessary physicality.

"We were lucky in the recent games, and today we will see," Guardiola told reporters.

"It's the same, I admire the physicality, but referees need to protect players. That's all I ask. Hopefully it will not be bad [the injury].

"Not just the best players [need protecting], all the best players. Why would you protect just the players we like the most?

"People are talking about diving and about how they [the referees] need to focus on the diving, that's okay. But not just Man City players, all the players of the league [need protecting].

"I know the contact is maybe more allowed here than any other country, that's okay, but there are limits.

"We were lucky against Tottenham with Raz [Raheem Sterling] and Kevin, Newcastle with [Ilkay] Gundogan. And we will see [about De Bruyne].

"Maybe it's just a huge kick, but maybe he will not be ready for the Watford game in two days. Protect all the players, please."

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