Vincent Kompany is struggling to be fit for Manchester City's Premier League trip to Aston Villa next Monday after suffering a setback in his attempt to return from a calf injury.
The City captain, sidelined since limping out of the FA Cup fourth-round victory at Stoke on January 26, had been expected to return within a month following his third calf injury of the season. But having overcome the problem he sustained against Stoke, the Belgian defender is now battling against an injury to his other calf, which has flared up during his rehabilitation.
City manager Roberto Mancini is hopeful that Kompany will be fit to travel to Villa Park, with the 26-year-old due to undergo intensive treatment this week.
But, with Sunday's 2-0 win against Chelsea the fifth game Kompany has missed since the Stoke fixture, Mancini is wary of rushing the centre-half back into action until he is fully recovered.
The victory against Chelsea moved City to within 12 points of leaders Manchester United. But although the champions are closer to the group of teams chasing second spot, City goalkeeper Joe Hart insists Mancini's players will continue to focus on catching United rather than worry about being caught by the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal.
"You've got to look up rather than down," Hart said. "It's going to be really hard and we've got a lot to do, but we're going to have a damn good go at doing it. Even if there are four games to go and we are 12 points behind, we'll still believe."
The defeat of Chelsea was City's first league victory in a month but Hart claims that run must be put in the past.
"You have got to look forward. You can speculate and talk about the past but we have just got to look forward and try to win. The only way is up for us," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)