Manchester City know they need to think about how to fill the void Yaya Toure will leave in the new year.
Toure, named African Player of the Year on Thursday night, will be required for international duty with Ivory Coast at the African Nations Cup in South Africa in January. The 29-year-old was sorely missed by City during last year's tournament with his eight-game absence coinciding with the Premier League club's worst spell of the season.
Midfielder Jack Rodwell said: "Yaya would be a big loss for us. He's been amazing so far and has been the engine in midfield, so he would be missed."
If Toure is called up two weeks before Ivory Coast's first match on January 22 - as is the country's right - the January 5 FA Cup tie against Watford could be his last City match until the February 24 clash with Chelsea.
Rodwell is one of the players who would like to step into Toure's role as he eyes a return to action after Christmas. The 21-year-old, signed in a £12million deal from Everton in August, has endured a frustrating start to his City career due to injuries.
The England international has made just six appearances and not featured since suffering a hamstring injury in October. He told the club's website, www.mcfc.co.uk: "I've just had a little bit of a setback with my hamstring injury, it will probably be another few weeks, so I'm looking into the new year.
"I'm doing quite a lot of training at the minute though, so I'm keeping busy. It's down to strengthening now, so I'm doing a lot of work in the gym and am just getting it right to prevent another injury.
"It's been a frustrating start to the season and to my City career, bit I'm focused now and I'm ready to get back. I just want to stay fit, keep working hard and hopefully I will get my chance and when I do I will grab it with both hands."
City could also be without forward Samir Nasri for their Christmas fixtures with reports suggesting the Frenchman could be sidelined for two weeks with a groin injury. Nasri was forced off in the first half of the champions' Barclays Premier League win at Newcastle last weekend.
City host Reading on Saturday before playing away at Sunderland and Norwich before new year.