Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has challenged the defenders in his side to cope up with the loss of inspirational captain Vincent Kompany.

Kompany had returned to the Manchester City starting XI after an eight-game absence, only to limp off after nine minutes in the 4-1 win over Sunderland.

.

The Belgian defender underwent a scan on Sunday and the result showed that the Manchester City captain will miss the crucial new year period that will see his side play Leicester City on Tuesday and in the start of the FA Cup campaign. He is also likely to miss both the legs of the English League Cup semifinal tie against Everton and several Premier League ties after that.

Pellegrini urges defenders to raise their levels to fill Kompany shoes

Speaking ahead of the tie against league leaders Leicester City, Pellegrini was quoted as saying by ESPN FC: “He’s very important because first of all he is captain.He is captain because has a lot of important things to give — his performance, his personality. We have to play so many games in January that it will be important for him to have fully recovered.”

City have bought two defenders in successive seasons for big money, spending A?31.5m and A?42m on Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala respectively. The manager challenged the duo alongside Argentine Martin Demichelis to fill the big shoes of the Belgian.

“Without Vincent we must try to continue being competitive. That depends on the performances of Mangala, Otamendi and Demichelis.”

Pellegrini defends City performance without Kompany

City are yet to keep a clean sheet in any of the 17 games that the Belgian has not played in. Defending the record, the City manager stated: “He’s very important. That doesn’t mean that we have to think that with Vincent we’re not going to make any mistakes, and without him we cannot win. It’s an important challenge for the other players.

“This team is better with Vincent than without him. But if you review how many games we played over the last two seasons I’ve had, I think Vincent plays a maximum 70 percent of the season. And we won titles, and the last six games [of last season] without him.”