Thomas Vermaelen's comeback has been put on hold again after the Arsenal defender confirmed he will undergo minor surgery on Tuesday.
The Belgium international has been out for more than four months with a troublesome Achilles injury, which has defied treatment.
Manager Arsene Wenger had been hoping Vermaelen would return this month but the 25-year-old will undergo a small procedure in Sweden which it is understood will make him a doubt for the first leg of the Gunners' Champions League last 16 tie with Barcelona.
The injury, sustained while Vermaelen was on international duty in September, was originally expected to keep him out for a week.
But three failed comeback attempts have forced the player to go under the knife.
He said in the Daily Mail: "I have already tried to come back three times, but the pain proved too much on each occasion. Recent tests showed a minor problem next to the Achilles tendon has been causing the pain. That's why I'll undergo surgery.
"I knew I had a problem at the beginning of September, when I was preparing for Belgium's games against Germany and Turkey. I didn't want to miss them, but after the game in Turkey, the pain became too great."
There was better news for Arsenal regarding midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who missed Saturday's 3-0 Barclays Premier League win at West Ham through illness.
The Czech Republic international has been given the all clear for Wednesday night's FA Cup third-round replay at Leeds.
"He was sick but had normal training on Saturday. He should be okay for Wednesday," Wenger told his club's official website, www.arsenal.com.
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