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Manchester City forward Kevin De Bruyne emerged from his man-of-the-match performance against Sunderland with a feeling of sympathy after seeing team-mate Vincent Kompany suffer another injury.
The shine was taken off City's 4-1 victory somewhat when defender Kompany was forced off just nine minutes into his comeback having suffered a recurrence of his calf problem.
The City skipper was making his first appearance since November 8 as a second-half substitute and was introduced after the hosts had conceded in his absence, continuing their run of failing to keep a clean sheet in each of the 10 Barclays Premier League games Kompany has not started.
The damage had already been done against the Black Cats, though, with De Bruyne instrumental having laid on two first-half goals before scoring himself after the break.
However, the 24-year-old admitted he felt for his fellow Belgian having seen his return to fitness cut short.
"It's difficult to say because obviously we don't know yet what he has, hopefully it's not too bad." De Bruyne told Press Association Sport.
"For him personally it's the hardest thing for the moment, I think.
"When you work so hard to come back and everything seems fine in the week and then you come on and you go quickly back again - it must be hard for him. We will be there to help him if he wants it."
Kompany is now unlikely to play on Tuesday when City visit Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester at the start of a run of fixtures that will see them play four successive away games in 12 days.
Manuel Pellegrini's side are competing in three competitions in that time and it is a packed schedule for someone like De Bruyne, who enjoyed a winter break of 40 days with former club Wolfsburg in Germany this time last season.
"I'm fine for the moment," he added after scoring his 10th goal for City.
"It's very hard because we are still in every league - with the League Cup and everything we are still playing.
"It's just the start. Obviously the whole season is difficult because you never have a moment of rest - but we'll see; everything's going to be okay."
Despite losing Kompany, City enjoyed a good Boxing Day elsewhere as both Leicester and Arsenal lost to bring Pellegrini's men, who have a superior goal difference to the pair, within three points of the summit ahead of the final round of fixtures in 2015.
Speaking about the Foxes, City's next opponents, De Bruyne said: "You have to give props to them - they're doing really well. But if we win there we are on the same amount of points and we are there on top of the table with some other teams so at the moment everything is fine."
The same cannot be said for Sam Allardyce's Sunderland, who will definitely see in the new year in the relegation zone.
Having travelled to Arsenal, Chelsea and City already this month, Allardyce has stressed the importance of back-to-back home fixtures against Liverpool and fellow strugglers Aston Villa.
"We have got a hugely difficult period coming along, certainly with the players I have got now," he said.
"I have to try and make them more resilient and better equipped to beat Liverpool and Aston Villa - two massively important games coming up where the players need to be at their very best to try to achieve as many points as they can get."
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