Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed Benjamin Mendy will be sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks after undergoing surgery on his knee. Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva will also be absent for Saturday's trip to West Ham United.
The Citizens return to Premier League action after the international break, and Guardiola confirmed to the media on Friday that Mendy would be out for the long term:
"Ten or 12 weeks" was Guardiola's answer when giving an estimation on Mendy's absence. In regards to Silva, he said the Portuguese maestro "cannot play this weekend" and is a doubt for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League clash at Lyon.
When asked about De Bruyne's fitness in regards to Saturday, Guardiola shook his head and said: "No."
If Mendy is absent for the maximum three months Guardiola talked about, it would put him on track for a return around mid-February. City face Arsenal and Chelsea at home in their first two fixtures that month before an international break, after which they return to action at Everton on February 23.
Silva picked up his injury on international duty with Portugal, but his manager described the complaint as "not too big." The Portuguese Football Federation (h/t Goal's Jason Jones) didn't specify Silva's injury when confirming he returned to his club before the team's UEFA Nations League clash with Poland on Tuesday.
Injury analyst Ben Dinnery reported De Bruyne was set for at least another week on the sidelines due to his ligament injury:
The league leaders travel to West Ham with two points separating them from Liverpool in second. They're unbeaten in 12 and have won the last seven of those (four in the league).
Guardiola didn't want his team to think too far ahead when asked about his side's prospects of winning back-to-back titles, a feat the club has never achieved:
Manchester City @ManCity
PEP: Right now, I am only focused on winning the next game. If we focus on winning back to back titles, we forget what we need to do. There is no sense in talking about that. Some games we are going to lose and some we will win. Now comes the toughest part of the season. #WHUMCI
He did warn, however, that City's day to lose will come:
"They [the players] are not machines, the opponents are good and, one game, we are going to lose.
"The target is not to be "Invincibles" or be unbeaten, that makes no sense. It's (to) play good every day and be happy the people are watching us in that game. And try to of course win the three points! We want to stay longer here."
Saturday's trip to the London Stadium sees Guardiola encounter Manuel Pellegrini, who took City to the Premier League title in 2013-14. Pellegrini had managed his first La Liga club, Villarreal, for four years before the Catalan took charge at Barcelona in 2008.
The City boss paid respects to his elder:
"His career speaks for itself in terms of quality. When you see a team from Manuel Pellegrini, even if you're blind, you recognise his style, always it's there.
"He put this team [Villarreal] on another level. Villarreal was a small, small city. And the way they played, the way they create and own a style was impressive."
The Spaniard went on to laud his work at Real Madrid and his decision to move to east London, although West Ham have only one win in their last six.
City will look to continue coping without the injured Mendy and De Bruyne, while Silva's absence will be a new test for Guardiola.
Premier League pursuers Liverpool and Chelsea are also away from home in Week 13 and travel to Watford and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively.