Arsenal have ruled midfielder Tomas Rosicky out of action until March "at the earliest".
The Czech Republic international has been out with a damaged hamstring tendon since January and, after making a slower than expected recovery, underwent surgery on the problem in Germany a month ago.
He is due to report back to Arsenal later this month but manager Arsene Wenger admits it will be some time before the 27-year-old will be ready to play again.
Wenger told the club's official website, www.arsenal.com: "He's doing rehab at the moment.
"He's back here on December 17 and then hopefully we can start to work with him. But it's a long-term prospect - maybe March at the earliest."
The Gunners have delivered more encouraging news on their other long-term absentee, Eduardo.
The Croatia star suffered a badly broken leg in a challenge from Birmingham's Martin Taylor in February.
Wenger said: "He will play on December 16 in the reserve team."