Southampton boss Nigel Adkins has confirmed Adam Lallana will be out of action for Saturday's clash with Sunderland, but refused to comment on the severity of the midfielder's injury.
• Blog: Future proofing
Lallana, 24, damaged knee ligaments during his side's 1-0 win over Reading on December 8, with immediate fears that the Saints skipper could be sidelined for several months.
But while it is believed that the damage was not as bad as first thought, Adkins was coy on the details of Lallana's comeback.
"Adam is still in his knee brace," he said. "He is progressing well and is now off the crutches. He won't be available for Saturday's game against Sunderland and that is all I need to say."
"That is all we are going to say. We're just going to say he is out for the Sunderland game and you can ask me the next question ahead of the next game."
Adkins was more willing to comment on the influence that Lallana has had on Southampton's battle with the relegation zone this season.
"He is obviously the captain of the team, an instrumental character," Adkins said. "He has got in the England set-up this season but we've got other players as well.
"Gaston Ramirez played there ever so well there when we played Reading, but we've got several players that can play in that position as well.
"Like all teams, you are going to suffer from injuries at certain stages, it is how well you can deal with it. I believe we have got several very good players that can play in offensive positions, especially where Adam plays."
Despite Lallana's absence, Southampton will be buoyed by the return of Frazer Richardson, Richard Chaplow and Paulo Gazzaniga with the Argentinian hoping to oust Kelvin Davis as the Saints' first choice goalkeeper.
"Paulo has been on the training ground," he said. "Today he had a proper training session. Kelvin played against Reading because Paulo was out of injured. He came in and did very well.
"He kept a clean sheet and put a good performance in so we've got good competition for places and that is important."