(Reuters) - Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne wishes Paul Pogba were available for Sunday’s Premier League derby because he relishes playing against “the best teams and the best players”.
Manchester United midfielder Pogba will be starting his three-match suspension after his red card for a reckless challenge on Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin.
The 24-year-old France international said last week he hoped “very important” City players would suffer injuries in the title race.
“I don’t believe in that,” De Bruyne told reporters. “I’m a very straightforward guy. If someone believes it is karma then OK. Everyone has their right to their opinion.
“I don’t want anyone to get injured. It’s a competition, you want to play against the best teams and the best players.
“He’s a massive player. I know him a little bit. He’s unbelievable. He took a red card and that’s the way it goes - you have injuries and suspensions.”
Leaders City are eight points clear of second-placed United ahead of their first meeting this season at Old Trafford and a win would open up an 11-point advantage at the top.
“It means we (would) almost have a four-game advantage. It’s a good gap but doesn’t mean anything,” De Bruyne added.
“Football goes very quick. It’s a busy two months when things can change but the way we’re going is good and we need to continue that.”
De Bruyne has not travelled to Ukraine for City’s final Champions League group match against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday because he is suspended.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond