Marouane Fellaini may not have surgery on his injured wrist until 2015, according to Manchester United manager David Moyes.
The 25-year-old, who signed for the Red Devils this summer for £27.5m from Everton, was expected to have an operation before the international break – but that may now be delayed for up to two years, if he can continue to play without any problems.
"Fellaini needs an operation," Moyes told reporters. "It is quite a bad wrist injury. There is a bit of bone and ligament sticking out.
"We have been told we can get away without operating just now and we are a little bit short with Tom Cleverley picking up a calf strain for England, so we need him and we will put it off as long as we can.
"That could be as long as two years. It is not desperate but part of it is does he feel OK to play.
"You do use your arms to hold people off and we have to make sure his wrist is not suffering any more damage than it is already."
Fellaini has featured five times for the Premier League champions since completing his move to Old Trafford, with his last league start coming in the 4-1 defeat to local rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
However, the powerful midfielder is now expected to feature against Southampton in Saturday afternoon's Premier League clash after helping Belgium secure their place at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil with a 2-1 win over Croatia.
If Fellaini suffers any setbacks with his wrist injury, there's a chance that Moyes will dip into the January transfer market for another midfielder.
The Scot has recently been linked with a move for Atletico Madrid star Koke, who has been compared to Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez.