Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp admits he does not know when defender Jonathan Woodgate will return from injury.
The 29-year-old struggled with a groin complaint last season and despite surgery in Germany in the summer and a recent injection, the problem has not gone away.
The centre-back has completed just two Premier League games for Spurs this season and is again back on the sidelines.
"He's had the injection but it doesn't seem to have done the trick really," Redknapp said.
"I don't know if he can have another operation, he's had so many. I don't know what the next step is really.
"It's a shame, he's such a good player. When he's fit he's fantastic for us but he is struggling a bit at the moment again.
"Everyone comes up with different opinions. It's difficult. Some people want to inject it, others want an operation.
"It's very hard to find with an injury like that, to get to the bottom of it all.
"There's no light you can see. With a broken ankle or whatever at least you know what you're dealing with. But these injuries can drag on forever."
As well as missing the former Real Madrid defender, Redknapp is also without Ledley King, whose struggling with a hamstring injury.,
That leaves the manager with only Sebastien Bassong and Michael Dawson as fit centre-backs, but Redknapp is reluctant to enter the transfer market to bolster his defence.
"Woody wants to play football so it's a big blow for him," Redknapp added.
"He's good enough for England. He's top class. Him and Ledley, and Michael Dawson is playing well for us as well.
"We're lucky really we've got four centre-halves here because we'd be in trouble with Ledley and Woody out injured. It's an area where we've had some cover and it's important.
"When Jonathan and Ledley played together last year they were a great partnership. But getting them out on the pitch at the same time has proved more difficult."