Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is 'optimistic' playmaker Tomas Rosicky could return from injury before Christmas.
Rosicky has not featured for the Gunners since January, after undergoing hamstring surgery in May, but had been expected to make his comeback this month.
However, the Czech Republic international suffered a setback in his recovery leading some reports to even suggest his career could be under threat.
Rosicky's agent, Pavel Paska, moved to dispel those rumours on Thursday, and now Wenger has explained the reasons behind the delay.
The Frenchman told the club's official website: "He is not close to playing again and he has not had any real setback, but the evolution (of his injury) is very slow.
"The recovery process is slower than we expected at the start. It doesn't look worrying but the delay is longer than expected.
"He had a re-attached tendon that was loose in his hamstring, and that demands a lot of time to re-coordinate the movements of the hamstring. That makes it very difficult to predict exactly one week more or less how much time it will take.
"But I am optimistic that before Christmas you will see him in a good shape."
Of the injury, Rosicky told Denik Sport: "Everything went well, according to the schedule. When I was running long distances, it [the hamstring] gave me no problems at all.
"But when I started on the ball and tried to change directions of running and changed pace, the knee reacted badly. So far it does not allow me to go on in the recovery so it has stopped my training for some time. I am not resting completely, though.
"I can lift weights and do other exercises. The knee simply must get down. It does not mean at all though that I have to end my career.
"I don't understand how it could have been published as no-one has spoken with me on this issue. This news have come out probably because I was expected to return in September, which failed.
"This injury is unusual and odd. Doctors tell me that the pain can fade away quickly and I can be back in three weeks, but it can also take more time.
"That is why I have to be patient. Every such treatment can bring unexpected problems with it. That is what has happened now so my return will be delayed."
Wenger also gave an update on long-term injury victim Eduardo, who suffered a broken leg against Birmingham in February.
"He is still very much on course and he could be a very good surprise because he is a little ahead of schedule," Wenger added.