Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has denied suggestions he has suffered a fresh setback in his bid to regain full fitness, and insists he is getting better every single day as he continues his recovery from injury.
The 25-year-old Belgian international hasn't featured for the Gunners since their UEFA Champions League qualifying round victory over Udinese, but says his rehabilitation is very much on course.
"It's getting better each day," confirmed Vermaelen. "An operation always goes with some stiffness and moisture. Now it is just a matter of getting stronger again, await the reactions.
"For a week I have been back on the training ground to do running exercises together with the fitness coach. I have been away for a few weeks and now I have to work on my condition.
"In the next few weeks we will continue this. It might take two or three weeks, but I cannot confirm a date for my return yet.
"Each day we have to wait and see how the foot reacts. It is a lot of hard work, but at least I am improving and that is what matters. Last year I went through a very hard period, as for quite a long time we did not know what caused the injury.
"I have been away for one year and that was a very hard period. A footballer always wants to play, but fortunately now I know how long the recovery will last. I don't have to worry, it could have been much worse.
"The season has just started and there are still many matches ahead of us. There is where my focus is right now."
Arsene Wenger has been pleased with Vermaelen's progress, and has set the defender a more specific target to be back within first-team contention.
"He's two weeks away," revealed the Frenchman. "He is running out on the pitches.
"He looks alright but we have to respect the progression, you still have to give him two to three weeks to be competitive again."