Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling will both miss a large part of Manchester City's crucial run-in after sustaining injuries in the derby day defeat to Manchester United on Sunday.
The loss to United was the latest in a series of poor results for Manuel Pellegrini's side who now face a serious battle to secure a Champions League place.
Now Hart is confirmed as being out for up to a month Pellegrini will have to fight for a fourth-placed spot without the help of one of his most vocal players. What is worse for City fans is that if one takes the stopper out from the side Pellegrini fielded yesterday, a quick glance suggests that the squad lacks the characters to drag them out of their current situation.
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Not only is Hart a fantastic goalkeeper, but he is also an outspoken member of the squad and one that has the ability influence other members of the squad with his bold personality.
City's results have taken a nosedive following the announcement that Pep Guardiola will take over from Pellegrini as manager next season, something was compounded by injuries to key members of the squad including captain Vincent Kompany.
The Chilean boss went to great lengths to suggest that the incoming Guardiola has not had any negative impact on the player's attitudes, though the timing of the managerial announcement and City's results suggests otherwise.
"I don't think I have lost any control," said Pellegrini after the loss to United, as quoted by the BBC. "The attitude of the team was excellent. I repeat - I am happy with attitude of the players."
Without talismanic skipper Kompany at the heart of their back line the Blues looked lost against Van Gaal's side, something that youngster Marcus Rashford capitalised upon by embarrassing an ageing Martin Demichelis to score United's first.
And with Hart out for up to a month City now lack another forthright presence in their side - something that could be catastrophic for them as they aim to qualify for the Champions League.
Although the Chilean manager will outwardly act professionally and try to do his best for the club before the end of the season, the fact that he knows he is getting replaced is something clearly playing on his and the player's minds, given their recent run of results.
Both Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany are City's leaders on the field and with both of them now out for a critical stage of the season, missing out on the Champions League is now a real possibility for City.
Considering that the 2013/14 league champions were one of the favourites to take the crown at the beginning of the season, missing out on fourth place would be a miserable end to a poor season.
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