Pep Guardiola is desperate for Vincent Kompany to return, saying he "needs" him back to full fitness as Wednesday's Champions League showdown with Barcelona looms.
Despite reeling off 10 consecutive wins to start Guardiola's tenure in dominant fashion domestically and in Europe, City have failed to convince at the back in the Kompany's absence.
The Premier League leaders have only kept a single clean sheet in their eight games so far and are winless in three after Saturday's 1-1 draw with Everton.
A switch to a back three failed to add stability at the Etihad Stadium as Gael Clichy's error allowed Romelu Lukaku to open the scoring, though Nolito was able to earn his side a point.
To the relief of fans, Kompany came on as a last-minute substitute for his first league appearance of the season, and Guardiola is desperate for him to regain match fitness and boost their title charge.
"I need him. We need him," the Catalan told the Manchester Evening News. "Today, it's tough. Every season is tougher.
"There are more games and more intensity, it is more demanding and there is more pressure on the players."
Despite being at pains to underline that he will not rush the captain back, Kompany could be in line to earn minutes against Barcelona, who were boosted by the injury comeback of Lionel Messi at the weekend.