Sterling has been in and out of the team this season and has suggested he could look to move abroad if he cannot find regular games at the Etihad Stadium.
Manager Pep Guardiola said he cannot guarantee the place of any player but De Bruyne admits he can understand Sterling’s frustration.
“Rotation is important because playing four competitions and mostly going far in them, it’s a tough ask sometimes,” De Bruyne told a news conference ahead of the Champions League tie with Club Brugge.
“I understand the frustration because I’m a player and you have some players who need more rhythm to get into it and maybe Raz [Sterling] is someone who needs more, I’m a player that needs that also. Sometimes it’s tough to play one game yes, one game no.
“Obviously it’s the manager who has to make choices and it’s very hard. We have a group of 22, 23 internationals who are unbelievable. Whoever you pick, you will be right a lot of the time. Whenever the team plays good there’s not a lot you can’t say as a player.”
Guardiola’s team are still considered one of the favourites to win the competition after reaching last season’s final but De Bruyne insisted he doesn’t need the trophy to consider his time at City a success after winning nine domestic trophies including three Premier League titles.
“People will always set the standard higher and higher,” he said. “What we’ve done in England for the last five or six years, people expect us to win the Champions League and that’s what we want to do.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to win it but we always try to compete. We’re always competing, but we’ve not managed to win it but we’re trying.
“Hopefully in my period here we can get one. Does it define your legacy? For people outside maybe. I think it depends, you look at the situation and I’m happy with what we’ve done as a club for the last six years.”
“The protocols, they could land here [Belgium] without isolating for 10 days,” Guardiola said.
“We’ll join them in the hotel. They’ll do the prep and maybe play or not. Then they’ll come back on Wednesday and can go back to daily life.
“With Gabriel and Edi we are together for four or five years; they don’t need special things to be ready. They feel good I think, they’ve trained one or two days there with our trainers and we’ll see how they feel tonight.”