Manchester City hope Martin Petrov can delay knee surgery until the end of the season, but Mark Hughes admits it is 'a long shot'.
Petrov suffered damage to his meniscus while on international duty with Bulgaria last week and had been ruled out for three or four months by City.
However, after visiting a specialist in Spain, Hughes admits City will wait to see if Petrov's knee strengthens up before booking the winger in for surgery.
"Our recent thoughts were that he was going to be out for quite some time and that could still be the case," said Hughes on Sky Sports News.
"He went to see a specialist in Spain, it was the guy who looked after him when he did his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) initially, and the report has come back and that's intact.
"He does have a problem with the meniscus, but the view is maybe for the next couple of weeks we will try and build up the strength around the injury and see how we go.
"If, after two weeks, it shows no marked improvement then we will have to do something about the injury and he will be out for a significant amount of time, so at this moment in time, for the next few weeks, we're hoping that maybe strengthening around the injury may take the pressure off and he may be able to play and get it done at the end of the year.
"It's a long shot, but it's worth taking for the sake of a couple of weeks."
Meanwhile, Hughes confirmed Micah Richards is 'touch and go' to feature in Sunday's game against Stoke City after the defender suffered an ankle injury in Monday's 2-2 draw at Newcastle United.
Hughes added: "He went over on his ankle and the impact was when the lad went over and fell on his ankle when he was down.
"It was sore at the time and has settled down, but once we can get all the swelling away then he should be okay.
"We will check on him again today and see if he's able to train, if not today then hopefully he'll be back tomorrow. He's touch and go, I would say."