Pep Guardiola is unlikely to risk Ruben Dias from the start as Manchester City face Brighton in a crunch Premier League game on Wednesday. The centre back has been out for seven weeks after damaging a hamstring against Peterborough in the FA Cup and, despite being on the subs bench for the last two games, has played no minutes since.

Guardiola has considered starting the Portugal international, last season’s PFA Player of the Year, against the Seagulls but is erring on the side of caution after a warning from Barcelona specialist Dr Ramon Cugat that rushing him back could have dire consequences. Dias is likely to be given time on the pitch as a substitute if things go City’s way against Brighton, and then maybe make his first start in the home game with Watford on Saturday.

Guardiola said that Dias is the perfect professional when it comes to injury rehabilitation and recovery, as he does everything correctly: “It depends on the player,” he said when asked whether the demands of the centre back role are a consideration.

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“Ruben can perfectly handle the absence, the lack of (playing) time over seven weeks. The others need it step-by-step, minutes. They need more time. Over seven weeks, he went to sleep at 10pm, up at 7am – lunch the same time every day, he stays in the gym and the pool for I don’t know how long.

“He does it when he is fit and when he is not fit. When he says ‘I’m OK’ then he is OK. I have no doubts about Ruben.”

But when asked if he could play the full 90 minutes against Brighton, Guardiola suggested that, with John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake all in good form, there was no need to take undue risks.

“Yeah, he could (play 90 minutes),” he said. “It depends on the game. Tomorrow is so demanding. Maybe for the last minutes just in case? I haven’t decided the line-up mentally. I think maybe the last minutes but he could start, he could play.”

When Dias first sustained the injury, Guardiola was warned by medical staff that it was the type of problem that could lead to him being out for the rest of the season if he was rushed back too soon – and with the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid less than a week away, it seems politic to use him sparingly.

Asked whether bringing him back too soon could be an issue, Guardiola said: “It can happen. Dr Cugat told me between six and eight weeks. Now it’s seven. We are in this margin. He’s training a lot now and he feels much better. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have no doubts about Ruben. With Ruben, it is not a problem.”

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