Aston Villa newcomer Stewart Downing has admitted it will be early December before he is available to make his debut.
It was initially thought Downing would be available in October following his foot injury after completing a £12 million switch from Middlesbrough.
But the England winger said: "The target is early December. If I'm ready before then that's a bonus. If it's after it just needs time to heal."
He added: "The injury is a bit of a strange one. It's not a break but there's a fracture there.
"I've had to have it pinned and that should come out in September. Then it's a case of building it up."
Downing added: "I'm sure I will play before Christmas. The manager wants me 100% right and is prepared to give me extra time to do it."
Downing suffered his setback in a challenge by Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov at the tail end of last season.
If Downing's fears are realised, he will miss virtually all of the Europa League group stages - assuming Villa negotiate next month's qualifier.
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