London - Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will be out of action for just one month despite suffering a knee injury during the Premier League champions' 3-2 win over Southampton.
Aguero was stretchered off after less than 10 minutes at Eastlands on Sunday after twisting his knee in a challenge with Southampton defender Nathaniel Clyne and it was initially feared the 24-year-old Argentine could be sidelined for most of the season.
However, following a scan and a period of assessment on the striker, City manager Roberto Mancini has revealed Aguero - whose 23-goal haul last season included the dramatic title-winner against QPR on the final day - could be back in action in time for his team's league clash at Stoke City on September 15.
While Mancini is loath to lose Aguero for any length of time, the Italian admits he is relieved to know his star striker, signed for £32m from Atletico Madrid last year, will not be out for as long as he first thought.
"I don't think Sergio will be out for long and we are hoping he will be back after the international break, which is obviously fantastic news for him and for us," Mancini told City's website.
"We were very worried a couple of days ago because we feared he could be out for six months or maybe even more, which would have been very bad news.
"It looked like a very strange injury at the time and because it was his knee, we were obviously very concerned, so this news is a relief for everybody."
Mancini has also been boosted by news that England midfielder Gareth Barry and right-back Micah Richards are ahead of schedule as they return from injuries.
Barry suffered an abdominal injury that ruled him out of Euro 2012, but is now back in training and working to catch up after missing the pre-season.
Richards, meanwhile, is making progress after suffering an ankle injury while playing for Great Britain at the Olympics.
"Gareth will also be ready after the international break," Mancini said.
"He hasn't played any games for almost four months and he needs to build his fitness up, but he is training again and I don't see him being out for any longer than one month and hopefully, maybe just a couple of weeks.
"Micah's injury is more serious and he could be out a little longer, but having said that, with rest and the right treatment, we are hopeful he could be ready in about one month, which again would be great news."