MANCHESTER CITY midfielder Samir Nasri is likely to be out of action until mid-March after learning the full extent of his knee injury.
The 26-year-old Frenchman has been told he will be sidelined for around eight weeks after undergoing a scan following Sunday's 2-0 Premier League victory at Newcastle.
Nasri revealed the news via his Twitter account yesterday afternoon, and appeared to be relieved to have escaped greater damage. He tweeted: "Thank you everyone for your kind words and overwhelming support, I suppose its kind of good news that I will be out around 8 weeks."
Nasri was hurt in a challenge by compatriot Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa 75 minutes into competitive game at St James' Park.
He received lengthy treatment on the pitch before leaving it on a stretcher with his left leg stabilised in a brace.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini later revealed that he had damaged his medial ligament, and claimed Yanga-Mbiwa should have been sent off rather than booked for the tackle.
Should the initial prognosis prove correct, Nasri could miss 11 games in all competitions, including Barcelona's trip to the Etihad Stadium on February 18 and the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on March 1.
When he does return, he will hope his team-mates have been able to maintain their title challenge after a gritty display on Tyneside.
The win, which came in controversial circumstances as Newcastle's Cheick Tiote was denied what would have been a first-half equaliser by referee Mike Jones, extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 15 games.
But perhaps more significantly, it meant they have gone eight games on the road without a defeat, a stark contrast to their early-season form. Defender Martin Demichelis said: "It's true that at the beginning of the season, we didn't feel that comfortable. We were trying to get to know each other and we lost because of minimal details.
"(At Newcastle) we were lucky on those details. The players are getting to know each other more, so we really fell confident playing away now."
Full-back Pablo Zabaleta has warned his teammates they cannot afford to relax after laying down a marker in the race for the title.
The win extended City's unbeaten run away from home to eight games, further evidence that they have addressed their failings in that department earlier in the campaign.
However, Argentina international Zabaleta knows that will count for little if they do not maintain their standards in the weeks and months ahead. He said: "That is so important for this team, to keep winning games and keep going, and also be a consistent team.
"Sometimes people ask about when we play at home, that we are a different team, but today we showed again that even if you don't play at your best, it's important to win the game.
"Nobody is dropping points now, everybody is very close, it's very tight at the top of the table. It was fantastic to come back today to the top of the league."
City's sixth victory in those eight away fixtures proved to be hard-earned as they took an early lead and were then grateful to referee Jones for ruling out a Tiote equaliser which might have turned a tight game.
Edin Dzeko fired the visitors ahead with just eight minutes gone as he emphatically dispatched Aleksandar Kolarov's inch-perfect cross past goalkeeper Tim Krul.
But the Magpies thought they were back in it when Ivory Coast international Tiote blasted an unstoppable 34th-minute half-volley past keeper Joe Hart, only for Jones to belatedly chalk it off after ruling that Yoan Gouffran had interfered with his sight-line from an offside position.
The mood inside the stadium turned ugly as the home fans, and in particular Pardew who became involved in a heated touchline exchange with opposite number Pellegrini, vented their fury on the official.
However, City survived a concerted second-half fightback and as the home side pushed for a late equaliser, clinched victory with a second in stoppage time when Alvaro Negredo struck.
Pardew yesterday escaped disciplinary action from the English FA, but has been "reminded of his responsibilities" after his touchline behaviour.