Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne insists he “wasn’t exhausted” at the end of last season, despite concerns from manager Pep Guardiola.
The Belgian, 27, has started only twice for the Premier League champions this season after suffering two significant knee injuries.
Guardiola said last week that the player had started the season “tired” following the World Cup in Russia.
But De Bruyne says he “felt OK” to return after the summer.
Guardiola felt De Bruyne making 52 appearances in 12 months in all competitions for City and then playing a central role in Belgium’s third-place finish at the World Cup, had taken its toll.
“Kevin finished last season exhausted,” the Spaniard said.
“It was so tough for him and when he came back I had the feeling he was a little bit tired.”
But De Bruyne responded ahead of City’s EFL Cup fixture against Leicester on Tuesday.
“I wasn’t exhausted,” he said. “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.”
De Bruyne’s second knee injury occurred during the EFL Cup tie against Fulham on 1 November, just after his return from a separate problem.
“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.”