Pep Guardiola has admitted it may not be possible to give Sergio Aguero enough time on the pitch to get the striker back to full fitness.
Aguero has struggled with injury for nearly a year and has been restricted to just six Premier League appearances this season.
"We cannot forget how long he was out," Guardiola told a news conference on Tuesday.
"He has started getting better. I know he needs minutes to get to his best condition but we are not maybe in the moment to give him minutes for minutes because it is an important part of the season."
Aguero is into his 10th season at the Etihad Stadium but could leave the club in the summer if he does not sign a new contract.
His existing deal expires in June and despite interest from Barcelona and Juventus, Guardiola says talks about extending the Argentinian's stay at City will not take place until the end of the season.
"We have to be calm, the club will speak to his agent to know the situation, and we are going to talk at the end of the season," said Guardiola.
"Players will maybe leave or go on loan, maybe players from the academy will come up, maybe we are going to buy players. We're going to decide at the end of the season.
"Now I could tell you an answer but I don't know what is going to happen because in my mind right now I am far away from thinking about what is going to happen next season or the players that will be here. I am concerned with what we are playing for."