Manchester City expect captain Vincent Kompany to be out of action for a month after he suffered a groin injury in the opening-day win over Newcastle.
The setback means manager Manuel Pellegrini could be down to one senior central defender, Joleon Lescott, for Sunday’s trip to Cardiff as he waits to discover whether Matija Nastasic is fit to return.
Kompany limped off in the 4-0 win over the Magpies, and Friday’s diagnosis means he could be a doubt for the Manchester derby on September 22. He is certain to miss City’s two matches before the international break, away at Cardiff and at home to Hull.
Pellegrini said: “I would prefer the doctor has the last word on how many weeks Vincent Kompany is [out] injured -- I think at least one month.”
However, the Chilean refused to say whether he would re-enter the transfer market to sign another centre-back. City lost Kolo Toure in the summer while Micah Richards, another option at the back, is sidelined by a hamstring injury and Nastasic suffered an ankle problem in the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy.
Pellegrini is interested in Real Madrid’s Portugal international Pepe, while City have also been linked with Martin Demichelis, who played for him at Malaga.
However, he said: “It is not dependent on what happens with Vincent Kompany. Until the last day [of the transfer window], we will see what we can do, if we can improve our squad or not, but we have a very good squad so we will see what happens.”
Serbian defender Nastasic has returned to training, but Pellegrini is not sure whether he will be available to play at the Cardiff City Stadium, with midfielder Javi Garcia the likely deputy. The City boss added: “Nastasic is working normally with the squad, and we will see if he starts.”
Richards could be available for Hull’s visit to the City of Manchester Stadium, with Pellegrini adding: “Micah Richards may be without a problem next week.”
Stevan Jovetic may be available to make his debut after missing the Newcastle game with a tight hamstring. “We will see tomorrow [Saturday],” Pellegrini added. “He is not 100%, and that is very important to start in this Premier League, but he will work normally with us.”