Mark Hughes has conceded that Carlos Tevez could well be denied a return to Manchester United as a knee injury has ensured the forward is a big doubt for the upcoming derby at Old Trafford on September 20.
Tevez, who left United at the end of last season before signing for their city rivals, sustained the problem on international duty with Argentina and has already been ruled out of City's home tie with Arsenal on Saturday.
His national team's doctors expect the 25-year-old to be absent for up to three weeks, meaning Tevez would not be able to play against Sir Alex Ferguson's side and in front of an Old Trafford support that idolised him prior to his departure.
But City manager Hughes still retains some hope that the three-time South American Player of the Year will be able to make the first Manchester derby of the season.
"The Argentine medical people said it would be two or three weeks,'' Hughes said. "We think it might be less than that but he is a doubt for the derby next week.
"However, we will do everything in our power to get him fit because, for obvious reasons, he would love to play in that match.''
Tevez injured his knee in Argentina's 3-1 defeat to Brazil - a game that also saw City team-mate Robinho sustain an ankle injury. The former Real Madrid forward will now require a scan before Hughes decides if he is available for selection against Arsenal.
"He had a little bit of swelling on the ankle,'' confirmed Hughes. "We do not think there is a significant injury there but it is best to check to make sure there is no stress fracture. Once we get the results we can decide whether he plays tomorrow or not.''