By Paul Clennam
Manchester City fear Pablo Zabaleta could be out for a month with a hamstring injury, Goal has learned.
The Argentina international limped out of Tuesday night's Capital One Cup win over Leicester City, and the club are holding out hope the player suffered a spasm, rather than a tear.
The club's medical staff are not optimistic, however, and expect scans to indicate a serious injury which could rule him out for as many as seven matches over the next four weeks.
City are prepared to deploy James Milner at right-back over the festive period, given Micah Richards has also been ruled out with a hamstring injury picked up against Bayern Munich last week.
Milner has found form in midfield in recent weeks, particularly in the 3-2 win at the Allianz Arena, but has played at right-back at former club Aston Villa.
Meanwhile, Stevan Jovetic is set to make his return to the City line-up against Fulham at the weekened after missing Tuesday's 3-1 win through illness.
The Montenegro striker picked up a calf injury against Newcastle at the end of October but had resumed full training in recent weeks and was expected to make his comeback against the Foxes.