MANCHESTER, England -- Fernandinho has said that Manchester City are trying to give him as much as rest as possible with no direct alternative for his holding midfield role.
Pep Guardiola wants two players for every position and had wanted to bring in Jorginho in the summer but missed out when the Italy international followed manager Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea from Napoli instead. City have been looking at alternatives, with Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong and Wolves' Ruben Neves scouted as potential long-term replacements.
But Fernandinho, 33, has revelled in the extra responsibility this season and was again outstanding in the 3-1 derby victory over Manchester United on Sunday to keep City two point clear at the top of the Premier League.
He has started every Premier League and Champions League match this season but was substituted early in the victories over Southampton and Shakhar Donetsk ahead of the derby to ensure he was ready for the visit of United.
"I've already started playing that way of saving a little today to gain tomorrow," Fernandinho told reporters. "So every 10 or 15 minutes off now can make me have a longer career.
"That substitution was a conscious decision looking for the weekend game. I know the club haven't bought a player for my position, so they try to shield me as much as possible. When you are 33, you have to be more careful."
The Brazilian will now have another two weeks' off after being left out of Tite's squad for the Selecao's friendlies with Uruguay and Cameroon. And he will be able to put his feet up with City two points clear at the top of the table after an impressive win over rivals United.
"It's a really good result," he added. "We didn't win the last two derbies at home, so it was important to win this time.
"The way we played, especially in the second half, was really good. Even after conceding a goal, we played much better in the last 45 minutes. It was a deserved win."
City's third goal was a particular highlight with 44 passes completed before substitute Ilkay Gundogan turned in Bernardo Silva's cross. But Fernandinho insisted they were just playing patiently in a bid to break through United's defence.
"We always pass the ball with the intention to score a goal," he said. "In that moment, we were having trouble to find the offensive players in a good position but we could keep the ball anyway.
"The pass from Bernardo was amazing for a great shot from Gundo. So the number of passes is not that relevant as we're always trying to pass it forward."