London - Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany could be sidelined with a calf injury until "the last part of the season", manager Manuel Pellegrini revealed on Tuesday.
Kompany, 29, has made just 12 appearances this season due to a succession of calf problems.
The Belgium centre-back's latest injury, sustained during City's 4-1 win over Sunderland on December 26, was initially expected to keep him out of action for four weeks, but Pellegrini has revised that prognosis.
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"Vincent maybe not so soon," Pellegrini told a press conference when asked when his skipper was likely to return. "But for the last part of the season he could be fit."
Asked if he could provide an update on Kompany's situation, he said: "Not in this moment. It is difficult because Vincent is doing a lot of different things to try to understand and to find the reasons for so many injuries.
"At this moment it is difficult to tell you an update about that."
Kompany's importance to City is borne out starkly by statistics. They have conceded only goal in the Premier League while he has been on the field and have kept just one clean sheet in the 11 games he has missed.
City have also lost Kompany's fellow central defender Eliaquim Mangala to a hamstring injury, but Pellegrini said that he has no plans to bring in cover during the January transfer window.
"We have (Martin) Demichelis, we have (Nicolas) Otamendi, we have Bacary Sagna, who can play in a central defensive position," said the Chilean.
"We have Cameron (Humphreys), who is a young player who featured in pre-season with the squad. Mangala will return soon. So at this moment we are not thinking about making a change."
City are three points below league leaders Arsenal in third place ahead of Wednesday's home game with Everton.