Phil Foden could miss the opening month of Manchester City’s Premier League title defence with the foot injury that ruled him out of the Euro 2020 final and left him in tears.
England playmaker Foden was laid low during the build-up to the Wembley showdown with Italy, having impressed in an extra-time cameo against Denmark in the semi-finals.
Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri prevailed on penalties as the 21-year-old was restricted to a watching brief and, with City beginning their top-flight campaign at Tottenham on Sunday, he will be out of action once more.
Back-to-back home games against newly promoted Norwich City and Arsenal will also come too soon, with a September 11 trip to Leicester City after the international break or the following weekend’s game against Southampton representing possible return dates.
“It’s still a little bit sore. It was such a shame to do it just before the Euro final, it was really unfortunate,” Foden told Sky Sports News.
“I’m working hard in the gym. Hopefully I can get back as soon as possible. I would say around three to four weeks more.
“Hopefully it flies by and I can get back on the pitch.”
Foden was named PFA Young Player of the Year, scoring 16 goals and laying on 10 assists across all competitions as Pep Guardiola’s side won a fourth consecutive EFL Cup and their third league title in four seasons.
Nevertheless, there were also moments of bitter disappointment, as Chelsea claimed a 1-0 win over their Premier League counterparts in the Champions League final before a crestfallen Foden discussed being ruled out of the Euros showpiece with England boss Gareth Southgate.
“I remember speaking to the manager when I got injured and I just burst out crying with tears, with devastation that I was injured,” he revealed.
“I was just praying on that day that the team won and unfortunately we didn’t. But we’re proud of what we did, we created history in getting to the final and I think next time we go into a major tournament it’s going to help us.
“It was so good to see in the changing room how together everyone was. It was a special moment to share with the team.
“Come the  World Cup, I feel like those experiences can only help us.”
Alongside Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker and John Stones, another member of that England dressing room is now a club colleague.
Jack Grealish joined City for a British record £100million from Aston Villa last week and Foden is relishing lining up alongside him.
“We’re close. When I first went to England we got on really well on and off the pitch,” he said of Grealish.
“I’m really glad he’s signed here and hopefully I can get back playing with him and enjoy my football.
“He’s fearless on the ball, he can change a game on his own. I believe he’s a really special player for us this year and he’s going to be key for us.”