Vincent Kompany is unlikely to feature again for Manchester City until 2017, manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.
Club captain Kompany has been ravaged by fitness problems over recent seasons and sustained medial knee ligament damage on his latest return to the starting XI, when he landed awkwardly following a collision with his goalkeeper Claudio Bravo during last Saturday's 2-1 win at Crystal Palace.
Guardiola said Kompany would be out for "the next weeks" ahead of Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League and, ahead of the weekend trip to Burnley, the former Bayern Munich boss conceded the Belgium international was facing an absence of up to six weeks after a visit to his favoured physician in Barcelona.
"Dr [Ramon] Cugat confirmed what the doctors here said," he explained. "It is a ligament problem. He will be out for four to six weeks."
Guardiola has deployed left-back Aleksandar Kolarov at the heart of defence to largely good effect this season, although he could find himself stretched at centre-back with John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi the only specialists in the position while Kompany recuperates once more.
That is unlikely to mean Yaya Toure being deployed in a defensive role, even if Guardiola once famously selected the recently recalled midfielder there on the grandest stage.
"Yaya can play in many positions, but I think we have other options to play there at centre-back," he said.
"He played there for Barcelona once, the Champions League final against Manchester United, because we had a lot of problems there. We didn't have players. He played amazing.
"Yaya will play in more attacking positions - to decide the last pass, to score goals, for our build up in the last third of the pitch.
"Maybe it can happen, but I have other options. Fernandinho can play there, [Bacary] Sagna can play there.
"We cannot forget at Crystal Palace, after one month and a half injured, Bacary played his first game at centre-back [after Kompany's injury] and played awesome. So we have other options."
Elsewhere on the injury front, Sergio Aguero suffered a blow to his foot versus Gladbach and the Argentina striker - along with his compatriot Pablo Zabaleta - will be assessed before Saturday's assignment at Turf Moor.
"Sergio finished the game not injured, but he has a problem in his foot," Guardiola added.
"Today he has training at four o'clock and we will know exactly his condition and the condition of the other players.
"We played the last game not long ago and we have a game [at Burnley] 12.30. So I am going to wait to see their condition, Pablo Zabaleta as well."