Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph has been ruled out for up to seven weeks with an Achilles injury, but skipper Vincent Kompany returns to the squad for the Super Sunday visit of Tottenham.
It is the second time this season that Delph has suffered a serious injury - he missed much of September and October with a hamstring problem that he picked up on England duty.
However, better news for boss Manuel Pellegrini is that captain Kompany and midfielder David Silva return to the squad for the Premier League showdown with Spurs at the Etihad.
Kompany's last comeback from injury, on Boxing Day, lasted just 10 minutes when he came off against Sunderland with a recurrence of his troublesome calf injury.
"I think that every player that will play the game must be 100 per cent," said Pellegrini.
"Vincent is working the last three weeks without any problems. He played 45 minutes in a friendly with the U21s so I think that he is ready now to play.
"Delph is worse as he has a problem with his Achilles tendon. He needs six or seven weeks to recover.
"It's difficult with so many injuries in the same position. Unfortunately, that's part of the season and we must try to manage with the players we have.
"We'll see what the starting XI is - we're not just thinking about one player and one game, we're involved in a lot of competitions. Maybe we have a lot of criticism when we don't play well but I'm happy with the squad over the whole season.
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"You've seen Kompany play for so many years I don't have to say what qualities he brings, he's one of the best defenders in the league."
City have dropped to fourth in the table following last weekend's 3-1 defeat by leaders Leicester, and he admits the clash with second-placed Spurs is a crunch game for both clubs.
"It's not a decisive game but it is a very important game - after it we will play for another 36 points," he said. "For our team, it's important to try to return to the top of the table. Two or three teams are in front of us in this moment so we must try to reclaim the points.
"Maybe it was an unexpected defeat against Leicester. The last 11 games we lost just one before that against Everton in the first leg of a Cup match we went on to win. We were in a good moment - but now we must play well against Spurs.
"Spurs a good team - they are involved in the title with 13 games to go."
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