Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has resigned himself to being without defender Joleon Lescott for most of the club's bid to secure Champions League football, which he believes is still a four-horse race.
Lescott has been ruled out for up to five weeks with a hamstring problem sustained in the warm-up before the 2-1 win over Fulham at the weekend.
That means he will miss Wednesday's clash at home to former club Everton and will more than likely still be out for games against Manchester United and Arsenal at the end of April.
"Joleon went to see a doctor in London and he said it will be four or five weeks before he can come back," said Mancini.
"I think there is a good chance that Joleon could play in the last two weeks of the season.
"We are unlucky because Joleon is an important player for us and we have lost him in a crucial moment, but that is football."
City have the chance to regain fourth spot against the Toffees, a match Mancini describes as "crucial".
But even though a win would put them five points ahead of sixth-placed Liverpool with a game in hand, he is refusing to rule out Rafael Benitez's side.
"I think Liverpool are a strong team with a good manager and I think we must fight with them, Aston Villa and Tottenham. I don't think Liverpool are out," said the Italian.
"We always hope the other teams lose but it is important we do our job very well like at Fulham.
"Everton are in good form and they work very well on the pitch and it is a crucial game for us. If we win tomorrow we will have more chance [of finishing fourth]."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms