David Silva will undergo intensive treatment on back and hamstring injuries in an attempt to be fit for Manchester City's derby clash against Manchester United on Sunday after being omitted for tonight's Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund.
City, already eliminated from the Champions League and sitting bottom of Group D, can secure a place in the Europa League if they defeat the German champions at Signal Iduna Park and Ajax fail to beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Yet while manager Roberto Mancini insists he will field a strong team against Dortmund, a decision influenced to some extent by the lack of eight first-team players because of injury, suspension or ineligibility, the looming date with United, rather than the carrot of a place in UEFA's 'other' competition, is casting a long shadow over the encounter with Jurgen Klopp's team.
Despite leaving Silva behind in Manchester in an effort to accelerate his recovery from the problems that have plagued him in recent weeks, Mancini suggested that the Spanish midfielder is a major doubt for the derby.
Mancini said: "Silva has a problem because he is very tired and he has a problem with his back and his hamstring. We will try and let him recover for Sunday, but it's difficult.
"He has played all the games since returning from injury and it will be difficult to get him back for Sunday. David would be a big loss, but you have these moments over a season and we are a strong team in the Premier League."
While the suspended Yaya Toure and ineligible Kolo Toure will be fit to face United, Silva is the latest injury concern for Mancini, who is also without James Milner, Gael Clichy, Aleksandar Kolarov, Jack Rodwell and Micah Richards.
Only Clichy is likely to recover in time to face league leaders United and the personnel problems, which are beginning to mount for Mancini, highlight the paradox facing the Italian in terms of City's efforts to qualify for the Europa League.
While Mancini and the club's Abu Dhabi hierarchy are determined to see the team competing in Europe in the new year, for prestige and to boost City's UEFA co-efficient ranking, the manager admits that he will split resources and field second-choice teams in the Europa League should City play in the competition.
"Even though we can't go through to the second stage of the Champions League, it is important we try to stay in the Europa League," Mancini (below) said.
"It is important for the club because, if we could win the Europa League, it would be an important trophy and we want to win a trophy this season.
"But if we go into the Europa League, we will play different teams. When you play in the Champions League, you can play Tuesday or Wednesday, then Saturday or Sunday in the Premier League, but with the Europa League this is impossible.
"If you don't get any help from the FA then it is the problem in the Europa League. We want to play in it and we want to stay in it, but if we do, we will play two different teams, one Thursday and one on Sunday."
City's 1-1 draw against Dortmund at the Etihad Stadium in October, when the Germans dominated, underlined the distance Mancini's team must yet travel in order to succeed in the Champions League.
And Mancini admits that City must overcome a team capable of winning the Champions League if they are to qualify for the Europa League.
"Dortmund have good players and deserve to be staying in the Champions League," Mancini said.
"We didn't do enough to stay there. Dortmund are one of the best in Europe. They are really strong and I think they have a chance of winning the Champions League."
Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City
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