​Manchester City star David Silva has publicly expressed gratitude and thanks to all those who have given him messages of support during recent personal trouble.

Silva missed four City games across all competitions during the month of December as a result of what can now be revealed as the premature birth of his son, Mateo.

"I want to thank all of you for the love and good wishes received in the last few weeks, special thanks to my team-mates, the manager and all at the club for understanding my situation," Silva tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.

"Also, I want to share with you the birth of my son Mateo, who was born extremely preterm and is fighting day by day with help of the medical team."

Silva made his return to action in the 3-1 win against ​Watford, captaining the side, but Pep Guardiola made it clear afterwards that the Spanish maestro will be granted more time off should he need it.

Manchester City v Watford - Premier League

In this instance, football comes a distant second in the list of priorities.

"We are very happy David Silva is back with us. We don't know how long he will be with us, but you saw again today he essential player for us," Guardiola had stated.

"David is free to stay or to leave whenever he needs to. It depends.

"He wants to stay and help us and because he loves to play for City, but family is the most important thing in life. I would never push him. If we drop points because he is not with us, so be it - family is everything and must come first."