Arsenal centre-half Thomas Vermaelen will not return to action until the new year as he continues to recover from an Achilles problem, the Barclays Premier League club have confirmed.
The Belgium international has not played since picking up the injury during his country's Euro 2012 qualifier against Turkey in September.
Manager Arsene Wenger had expected to have the 25-year-old back within the next week of suffering the injury, but his three-month wait will now extend to at least four as Sebastien Squillaci continues to deputise.
Wenger told the club's official website: "Vermaelen is in a (protective] boot. We want him back and I hope he will be back soon, but not before January."