Craig Bellamy will be sidelined for three weeks after suffering a knee injury in Manchester City's defeat at West Ham United on Sunday. The Wales captain tore fibres in a patella tendon and City boss Mark Hughes concedes the "best-case scenario" is two to three weeks out.
"It's not an old injury," said Hughes. It's the patella, he's torn fibres in his knee. He's going to be a big miss.
"Team-mate Robinho will also miss City's Premier League clash with Aston Villa. Bellamy has made an instant impression since arriving in a £14m deal from West Ham United in January, scoring four times. But the 29-year-old hobbled out of City's 1-0 defeat at West Ham and saw a specialist in London on Monday for an assessment of the injury. It means Bellamy faces a race against time before Wales' next World Cup qualifying double-header with Finland and Germany.
John Toshack's team play Finland in Cardiff on 28 March before Group Four leaders Germany visit the Millennium Stadium four days later. But Bellamy, whose career has been plagued by knee injuries including a career-saving knee reconstruction, will also miss four crucial games for his club, including a UEFA Cup last 16 tie with Aalborg.
"Since he came to the club he has carried the fight for us," said Hughes.
"Against a team like Villa you need as many of your top players available as possible."
Robinho, meanwhile, damaged ligaments in his ankle at Upton Park but Hughes is hopeful the Brazilian will return for their European fixture. Bulgaria striker Valeri Bojinov is set to continue his return from injury with a place on the substitutes bench against Villa on Wednesday.