Manchester City defender Micah Richards has been sidelined for eight weeks after undergoing knee surgery, Goal.com has learned.
The right-back was stretchered off during the champions' 1-0 defeat of Swansea City after damaging the meniscus cartilage of his right knee and is now facing a battle to return to City's first team in time for the busy festive period.
Medical staff discovered scar tissue damage as well as a suspected cyst during the procedure that took place on Monday, but the club are confident that the 24-year-old will be fit to return before the New Year.
"City are relieved more than anything," a source close to the club told Goal.com.
"There was real concern that Micah had damaged his cruciate ligament so for it to be nothing more than a couple of months out is the best they could have hoped for."
Richards will begin his rehabilitation programme at the club's Carrington training complex next week, with Pablo Zabaleta set to return to Mancini's squad ahead of Saturday's visit to West Ham.
The Argentine's return will ease the right-back crisis faced by City, with summer signing Maicon 10 days behind Zabaleta in his recovery from a recurring hamstring problem.