A serious injury suffered by Ilkay Gundogan marred Manchester City’s return to winning ways at the expense of Watford on Wednesday.
The German midfielder faces “a long time” out after hurting his knee during the first half of City’s 2-0 Premier League victory over the Hornets at the Etihad Stadium.
Gundogan, 26, dislocated his kneecap last spring and spent several months in recovery prior to joining City and the latest problem affects the same knee.
He unsuccessfully tried to play on after sustaining the injury in an awkward fall and left the field in clear distress shortly before the interval.
Manager Pep Guardiola said: “I’m so, so desperately sad and unhappy for what happened to Ilkay Gundogan.
“We’re going to miss him I think for a long time. It is the worst news from the day.”
Defender Pablo Zabaleta, who opened the scoring for City with his first goal in two years, expressed his sympathy for his team-mate.
The Argentinian said: “He will have a scan and we will see how bad it is but we feel so sorry for him because it has been quite tough for him at the beginning of the season.
“He has been working so hard and he was playing well. Unfortunately it is the same knee but you have to keep strong and we will see how bad it is.”
Zabaleta gave City the edge by turning home a Kevin De Bruyne cross just after the half-hour. Raheem Sterling hit the bar early in the second half but City did not kill off the game until David Silva claimed their second four minutes from time. That strike came just moments after Odion Ighalo had spurned a good opportunity to equalise.
The result brought some welcome relief for City after a difficult spell. It was their first win in four games, only their fifth in 16 in all competitions and their first at home in the league in almost three months. They also registered their first clean sheet in nine attempts.
Guardiola said: “We are happy with the result. It was important to win this game against a well-organised Watford side.
“All the team worked hard and it is good to get a clean sheet and all our defenders did well against Watford’s tough, powerful strikers.”