Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has been named in the club's squad for the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia after almost four months out injured.
De Bruyne hasn't played for City since suffering a hamstring injury 23 minutes into the Premier League season opener against Burnley way back on 11 August.
Last month, the Belgian compared his hamstrings to "wet kitchen towel".
De Bruyne recently said he was hoping to be back on the pitch in early 2024.
Whether he actually gets any minutes at the tournament remains to be seen as it could merely be a way to ensure he still gets a medal if City go on to lift the trophy as expected. But his name in City’s squad for the Club World Cup raises the possibility of a returning slightly sooner.
Man City 2023 FIFA Club World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Ederson, Stefan Ortega, Scott Carson
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, John Stones, Nathan Ake, Sergio Gomez, Josko Gvardiol, Manuel Akanji, Rico Lewis
Midfielders: Kalvin Phillips, Mateo Kovacic, Jack Grealish, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, Matheus Nunes, Phil Foden
Forwards: Erling Haaland, Jeremy Doku, Julian Alvarez, Oscar Bobb
The FIFA Club World Cup kicks off on 12 December with a first round clash between host representative Al Ittihad, featuring the likes of Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kante and Fabinho, and OFC champions Auckland City from New Zealand.
Leon, Al Ahly and Urawa Red Diamonds, representing North America, Africa and Asia respectively, have byes to the second round three days later. Meanwhile, Manchester City and Copa Libertadores winners Fluminense skip straight to the semi-finals on 18 and 19 December. City will play on the latter date and will meet either Leon or Urawa Red Diamonds.
Club World Cup finals – this year's edition will be at King Abdullah Sports City on 22 December – have been dominated by European teams throughout the competition’s history since it permanently replaced the long-established Intercontinental Cup in 2005.
The Intercontinental Cup was edged by South America – 22 wins to Europe's 21. But Corinthians in 2012, beating Chelsea in the final, are the only non-European side to date to life the Club World Cup. South American clubs also no longer even feature in the final as often as they once did.
Al Hilal sprung a shock on Flamengo last year, while sides from Mexico, UAE, Japan, Morocco and DR Congo have knocked out South American champions since 2010. In fact, of the last 13 finals, only seven have featured a South American club.