Tottenham Hotspur central defender Michael Dawson has suffered a setback in his recovery from an Achilles injury, the player revealed yesterday.
Dawson sustained the injury five weeks ago and was expected to be out for around two months, but the Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, raised hopes that he would be back in action ahead of schedule when he revealed the player had discarded his protective boot and started jogging last week.
However, the 27-year-old played down expectations that he was on the verge of an early comeback after revealing he had been told to stop jogging and return to doing gym work instead, much to his dismay.
"I was outside running earlier in the week but the Achilles was still a little sore, so I've had to take a step back and concentrate on working in the gym," Dawson told Tottenham's website.
"The physios aren't too worried as I've been in a protective boot for a couple of weeks and I need to strengthen it up. I'm obviously a little down, but you never know with injuries and rehab, so we'll wait and see.
"I'll have a weekend's rest now and then it will be back to it next week. It's so disappointing to be injured and I was with Tom Huddlestone in the gym this week, he's also out, and it's a hard time for a footballer, it's the side of the game people don't see."
Despite missing the club's last seven games Dawson, who was sidelined for three months last season with a knee injury, has had his spirits lifted by last Sunday's north London derby win over Arsenal. Dawson sat on the back row of the bench with his team-mates to watch Spurs run out 2-1 winners at White Hart Lane thanks to right-back Kyle Walker's 30-yard strike.
The centre-half was delighted to see his fellow defender, who was last night on international duty with England in Montenegro, score his first goal for the club.
Dawson said: "It was funny with Kyle's winner. I was sat on the bench with Danny Rose and as it came to him, just before he took the touch, Danny said: 'he's got this' and suddenly, it was a goal. Everyone was saying 'wow'. We're all delighted for Kyle, he's been fantastic. You don't always get the plaudits as a defender but he'll be a fans' hero now.
"It was great for Kyle but all the lads were fantastic. Scott Parker, [Emmanuel] Adebayor have come in and been great. We've got all the flair players in the world, but Scotty has been fantastic, and back-to-front we were great against Arsenal. The lads were absolutely different class."
Tottenham have now won four consecutive Premier League matches and sit sixth in the table with a game in hand over all the clubs above them.
The positive atmosphere that surrounds the club is in stark contrast to that at the beginning of the campaign when, beset by off-the-field problems surrounding Luka Modric's future, they slumped to heavy defeats to both Manchester sides in their opening two games of the season.
Dawson, whose absence has been negated by the form of Ledley King and Younes Kaboul, never doubted that the club would turn things around. "We had that disappointing start against United and City but I said at the time we couldn't be too down, conceding goals is never nice as a defender but they are two teams I'm convinced will be battling for the title," Dawson added.
"You never want to lose like we did, but we've bounced back since then, shown real character and quality to win four out of four and believe me, that's no mean feat in the Premier League."
Meanwhile, it is understood that Huddlestone, who has also not played since the City match, has undergone an operation to attempt to clear the long-standing ankle injury which has plagued him since last season.