Manchester City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero could be out of action for a further two months, manager Pep Guardiola has said.
The striker has not played since undergoing knee surgery in June.
There had initially been hope the 32-year-old would be fit for the latter stages of the Champions League in August but that date passed and the target became the start of the new Premier League season.
But that will also be missed with Aguero, who scored 23 goals last term, still not back in full training.
Guardiola said: “We knew that the injury was difficult. In maybe one month or two months he will be ready.
“He has to come back on the pitch and regain the physical condition. Sergio was out for a long time and Sergio is not a guy who regains the physical condition quick.”
City begin their 2019-20 campaign after their short summer break at Wolves on Monday.
A few weeks ago there seemed a possibility City could have had Lionel Messi in their ranks.
The club were heavily linked with what would have been a sensational move for the six-time world player of the year as he became embroiled in a high-profile dispute with Barcelona.
Nothing materialised, however, as the 33-year-old ultimately opted to stay at the Nou Camp.
Guardiola, speaking at a press conference on Friday, was unwilling to discuss how close City came to pulling off a coup for his former Barca protege.
He said: “Leo explained quite well his feelings. I don’t have anything to add. He is a football player for Barcelona, the club I love. I have nothing more to say.”
Asked whether a move could be resurrected in future, Guardiola said: “I don’t know. It’s a question for Leo Messi. I cannot talk about the intentions for other people.”
City did not entertain a move for another of Guardiola’s former players, Thiago Alcantara.
Guardiola made the Spain international a key part of his Bayern Munich side after making his signing a priority at the German club, but his next destination will be Liverpool.
Guardiola said: “At the moment we have enough players in this position.
“I’m happy Thiago is coming to England. England is going to enjoy a really good player.”
The coming season is likely to be a big one for Phil Foden as the 20-year-old steps into the boots of departed playmaker David Silva.
However, the midfielder’s campaign got off to a bad start when he was sent home for breaching coronavirus protocols while on international duty with England in Iceland a fortnight ago.
Guardiola says he has responded well since returning to training with City.
Guardiola said: “He’s well, (from) the time I saw him, these three or four days we were together. He knows he made a mistake and that’s all.”
Guardiola is now in the final year of his contract at the Etihad Stadium but insists uncertainty over his future will not affect his ability to do the job.
He said: “It’s the same position. I come in to work harder or better every day than the previous seasons, and do the best football as possible to win games and make our people proud of our team. That’s my job.”