Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany could return from a calf problem within a month, according to manager Manuel Pellegrini who is facing a defensive injury crisis ahead of the Manchester derby against United. The Belgium international limped out of the Champions league draw with Dynamo Kiev and will be unavailable until mid-April while Nicolas Otamendi is also a doubt with a dead leg.
Otamendi was replaced mid-way through the first half, leaving Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala at the heart of the City back-four. The pair have started together just once this season, in the 4-1 demolition by Liverpool, and are in line to be partnered together again for the visit of Louis van Gaal's side.
Kompany has been ruled out of the clash with United, Belgium's international friendly against Portugal, as well as the Premier League matches against AFC Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion and both legs of the Champions League quarter-final with Paris Saint Germain.
"We'll see in the way he'll improve – maybe one month he can be ready," Pellegrini told reporters, according to the Manchester Evening News. "I think he could play again this season. It's a new injury in the other calf. It's high behind the knee, similar to the one that [Aleksandar] Kolarov had a month ago and he took three weeks to a month to recover so we'll see. It's important to see how he'll improve in the first weeks. The first thing that we think is that within a month he can recover.
Otamendi faces a late fitness test and could join the skipper on the sidelines: "We'll see tomorrow. Nico is running but it is a risk if he takes another kick in the same leg. We hope [Fabian] Delph, [Kevin] De Bruyne and [Samir] Nasri will play in a friendly for the Under-21s during the international break."
A far cry from their previous battles for the title, City and United are scrambling to confirm their place in next season's Champions League. Pellegrini's side could start the game fifth, just four points adrift of the Old Trafford club. The Chilean boss is wary of the visitors' threat, despite his team having extra preparation time following their respective European exploits.
"I think that a derby is always dangerous regardless of the position of both teams – if it's in the Premier League it's doubly dangerous," he added. "It's hard because they have good players – United have a very good squad, it doesn't matter which play or in which way they play, they're always a dangerous team.
"It's a target but it's not the most important thing, the most important thing is to finish first. It's a special game and I know the players treat it that way for the fans. If you have 24/48 hours more rest, it's important – it's not a decisive thing for the game but you can prepare better. That's the problem with the Europa League as you play on Thursday – it's not easy to prepare."