Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists he still has hope that captain Vincent Kompany will be able to make a full recovery in order to play completely free of his recurring calf problem.
The defender's latest comeback as a second-half substitute from the injury against Sunderland saw him last only nine minutes before having to be replaced himself on December 26.
Kompany, 29, has only been able to start eight of City's 19 Premier League matches this season, sparking fears he will have to manage the calf issue for the rest of his career.
But while Pellegrini is still not certain as to the extent of the long-term damage, he still feels there is a chance that his centre-back can fully heal.
"We hope not," he said when asked whether the injury could affect the rest of Kompany's career.
"We hope that this must be a moment of his career. I think that he is a very professional player.
"A lot of players at some moments of their career have a bad season for different injuries. I hope this is the part of the season for Kompany and the second part he will be fit.
"If not, of course, I repeat we must try to do everything we can do to try to know why.
"He and the club and are going to do all we can to try to help him but it is difficult for me to answer these questions because I repeat again, I am not a doctor."
City sit third in the Premier League at the halfway point of the season and have an away match against Watford on Saturday.