It’s been a mixed week in the world of Mario Balotelli, who has been forced to watch on from the sidelines as his Nice side have struggled to fire without him.
On Wednesday it was announced by head coach Lucien Favre that the Italian forward had sustained a calf problem that will rule him out for at least four matches.
"He won't be available for the three matches to come over the next 10 days, that's for sure," the Swiss said.
"For the matches that come after that, we don't know yet."
Balotelli’s problem was sustained during shooting practice, and without him his Nice side have stumbled. They were eliminated from the UEFA Europa League courtesy of a 2-0 loss against Schalke, though their prospects of qualifying in that competition were slim anyway, and on Sunday they were left frustrated by a 1-1 home draw with Bastia.
The striker was in the stands to watch as Alassane Pléa – his replacement – headed Nice into the lead. But after they were pegged back by Enzo Crivelli's goal, Pléa, the former Lyon youth team striker, incredibly hit the bar having rounded the visiting keeper.
With Monaco thumping Marseille and PSG struggling to a 2-1 win over Lyon, Nice’s advantage over the chasing pack is now just one point.
Clearly they were not as fired up by this American football team, whose pre-game chant Balotelli posted on Instagram on Thursday.
There was better news, however, coming from across the Alps, where Italy national team boss Giampiero Ventura has opened the door for the forward to return to the Azzurri for the first time since the 2014 World Cup.
“Balotelli's not a player for a training camp – we're talking about a player who has played in a World Cup,” the veteran boss said.
“I want to talk to him. Between now and March I will have the time to go and see him personally. Once he's worked on himself, he will be considered like everybody else.”
That is a ray of hope from what has been a frustrating week – and another is ahead as he seeks to regain his fitness.