No Mercy : City, Liverpool out to hit rivals

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Rotherham coach Paul Warne may be hoping Manchester City field their second string on Sunday when the Premier League champions host his side but one man expected to start is Kevin De Bruyne.

As part of his return to full fitness, De Bruyne is expected to be in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI when the Blues host the Championship strugglers. De Bruyne underwent a lengthy warm-up during City’s 2-1 win over Liverpool on Thursday, but Guardiola opted to hold him back and not risk the 27-year-old’s fitness in such an intense game.

The Rotherham match will be a less challenging environment for De Bruyne to continue his journey to peak match sharpness. Also expected to start on Sunday is teenager Phil Foden, who is in line for his 15th appearance of the season (16 including the pre-season Community Shield).

Foden has yet to start a Premier League game this term, but has been substituted on 8 times, with Guardiola intent on gradually integrating him into the side with appearances in the cups.

At the same time, Manchester City will have a first-time referee at the Etihad Stadium when they host Rotherham. David Coote has been assigned the game, his first ever fixture involving City. The Nottinghamshire-born referee rotates between Premier League and Championship games and has been working his way up the league system in recent years.

Coote does have a recent Rotherham assignment to his name, having been in charge when they won their League One tie away at Rochdale in October 2017.