Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen is set to undergo surgery for his persistent Achilles problem and will be out of action for another six weeks at least.
Vermaelen has been on the sidelines since August and has been nearing a return for the past few weeks. Laurent Koscielny, Sebastian Squillaci and Johan Djourou have filled in during his absence and manager Arsene Wenger has admitted he will have to delve into the transfer market in order to fill the gap in January.
The 25-year-old told Belgian website Sporza.be that he would be targeting a return to action in March and that surgery was the only option left.
"I'll undergo this operation in Sweden," he said. "According to the specialist who will operate on me it's a little tendon situated beside the Achilles tendon which is provoking the irritation." He added that he didn't expect to be back competing "before four to six weeks".
West Ham United's Matthew Upson, Bolton Wanderers' Gary Cahill and Blackburn Rovers' Christopher Samba have all tipped with a switch to the Emirates after Werder Bremen star Per Mertesacker ruled himself out of a move.