Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has conceded that Raheem Sterling's hamstring injury may keep him out of the Champions League clash with Real Madrid at the end of February.
The 25-year-old limped off towards the end of City's 2-0 Premier League defeat at Tottenham last weekend, and initial reports suggested that he'll be out of action for around a month.
But with no official confirmation on a diagnosis coming from City, Guardiola was left to front up in front of the cameras for his pre-match press conference - held before City's clash with West Ham - where he admitted that Sterling will be out for a number of weeks at least.
He even hinted at a longer spell on the sidelines, suggesting the club - when asked - are unsure on how severe Sterling's injury is. As quoted by City's official website, Guardiola said: “Raheem has a hamstring injury and we will see. Of course, it takes weeks, but we will see for Madrid. I don't know [at this stage].
“[I have] No idea [if it will be weeks or months]. It’s a problem. It was a problem with Ilkay Gundogan [when he was out] for six months in my first season, and this year Aymeric Laporte has been out. It is what it is. We will see.”
There was a more positive update from Guardiola on the fitness of teammate and long-term injury casualty Leroy Sane, however.
The German has been out of action for the last six months with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, but recently returned to full training. Guardiola continued by saying that caution must be applied with Sane's recovery, hinting that he won't be brought back into the first team fold until he's completely ready.
“He is training with us. When you have an injury for six months, you cannot train one week and be there," Guardiola added. “You have to recover your tempo, rhythm and be confident in your body and your knee. It’s not like an ankle, or muscle injury.
“A knee injury always needs time. He needs weeks. The surgery was perfect, and he recovered incredibly well. He will be back but he right now he needs time.”