Pep Guardiola says there is "no problem" between him and Vincent Kompany and that he is eager to keep the injury-prone Manchester City captain fit.
Kompany lasted just 45 minutes of Wednesday's 1-0 EFL Cup defeat at Manchester United before coming off complaining of fatigue, having started two consecutive games after a month on the sidelines with a groin problem.
And Guardiola said his primary focus was on helping the 30-year-old Belgium international avoid a recurrence of the injury issues that have blighted him in recent seasons.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to West Brom, he told reporters: "Vincent didn't play the second half because he was tired. That was the reason why.
"He didn't play as much the last two seasons and we want to keep him safe. We want him to have the same options as his team-mates.
"We want to take care of all the players. Vincent knows his history in the last two years.
"We decided after what happened in Swansea to avoid it again. The injury was minimal compared to last season.
"The game against Southampton he played 78 minutes and he said he can't play no more, and the last game was 45 minutes. We need to handle the situation until he can play 90 minutes. It was just three days after Southampton, so maybe that's why he was tired."
There have also been suggestions Guardiola is not convinced Kompany has the skill-set to thrive in his City side.
The Catalan added: "All professional players can play in different styles, and of course he can [play in my side].
"He has a contract, no? So of course, I don't know what is the problem."
Guardiola was less forthcoming about Bacary Sagna, Kevin De Bruyne and Pablo Zabaleta, refusing to confirm whether the trio were available for the game at The Hawthorns.
"They are getting better," he said. "Right now I cannot answer. They are getting better - but I cannot answer if they will play at West Brom."