Stevan Jovetic has handed Chelsea a blow by insisting Manchester City can continue their Premier League title chase even without Yaya Toure.
The two clubs are neck and neck at the top of the Premier League table with identical records, but Chelsea may have hoped to take advantage of Toure's trip to the African Cup of Nations this month.
However, Jovetic has shot down any suggestion that City will struggle without their midfield talisman, insisting they're not a one-man team. Toure will travel to Equatorial Guinea this week, leaving City with tough games against Everton, Arsenal and Chelsea to come.
Having just returned from an absence of his own; injury restricted Jovetic to just one start in December, the striker has insisted his team have the strength in depth to cope without star men.
Article continues below
Asked about Chelsea's hopes of capitalising on Toure's international commitments, Jovetic told The Mirror: "They [Chelsea] can think what they want, but we don't depend on one player."
"They [Chelsea] can think what they want, but we don't depend on one player"
As well as missing Toure, City are still without the injured Sergio Aguero, and Jovetic highlighted Aguero's lay-off as proof that his side are not a man team.
"People said that when we lost Kun, but we have won seven or eight games without him," he said.
Despite Jovetic's positivity, sceptics may look at how City let a 2-0 lead slip to relegation threatened Burnley the last time they lined up without Toure.
The blow of losing Toure for at least the rest of this month has been softened by news that Frank Lampard will remain at the Etihad until the end of the season. With Toure missing from the midfield, Jovetic expects Lampard to be influential, saying: "We know Yaya is an important player for us, but he has games with his national team. Frank can help fill the gap Yaya leaves."
Lampard's success at City has surprised some, but Jovetic suggested he knew the ex-Chelsea man would be key when he signed.
"When he came here, it was a step more for us, because he is a legend, a great player," he said.
"The way he trains every day is incredible. It is nothing less than 100 per cent, and it shows when he comes into games, as he always makes a difference."