Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne insists he was not tired and could have started this season as he ended the last but for two freak knee injuries.
De Bruyne returned to action as a second-half substitute against Everton on Saturday, only his fourth Premier League appearance of the season and almost seven weeks after his previous outing.
Manager Pep Guardiola admitted last week the champions had missed the 27-year-old but hoped the lay-offs could prove a blessing in disguise with the player being fresher for the remainder of the campaign.
Guardiola felt De Bruyne ended last season “exhausted” and was still “a little bit tired” at the start of this term having helped Belgium to the World Cup semi-finals in the summer.
Yet De Bruyne, who was rested for the Community Shield and on the bench for the Premier League opener at Arsenal, felt he had enough rest.
He said: “I wasn’t exhausted. I had a rest of about three weeks after 12 months of playing. Is that short? Probably, yes, but I felt OK to come back.
“I played the most of anyone last year – in the whole world – and I played the World Cup without a problem. I think the most important thing is having a summer break, if you have that you can feel OK.
“There is always a time in someone’s career where you feel a bit less but I felt all right. It was just a shame that when I came back after one week I was then out for two-and-a-half months.
“I was happy to come back and worked really hard but after three games it happened again.”
De Bruyne’s injuries were not related, affecting different knees, and he felt no ill effects after his run-out against Everton.
He said: “I worked hard to be back. To play a little bit feels good, feels comfortable. That’s the main thing.
“I’m happy with my body because I know I have no problems with muscles. They were both just accidents. I felt my knee and it pops, so you just work hard and try to be back as soon as possible.”
De Bruyne could get more game time as City travel to Leicester in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday but he concedes he is unsure how long it will take him to rediscover his best form.
He said: “We’ll see, it’s difficult to say. I’ve not been out that amount of time (before). I’ll work hard to get back as soon as possible but I don’t put pressure on myself.”