Arsene Wenger has revealed a clearer picture over what role Thomas Vermaelen will play in Arsenal's Barclays Premier League title race will emerge soon.
Vermaelen has been sidelined since August with an Achilles injury that was initially thought would only rule him out for a few days, but the Belgian centre-back has now had the end of January earmarked for his comeback and Wenger admits the next few training sessions will be critical.
"Thomas has been out for a long time and we are hopeful he will come back in January," said Wenger. "He's had a few setbacks and the decider on whether he plays a part this season is now because he is practising again."
He added: "If he has another setback I don't know what the medical staff will do.
"But overall they look quite optimistic he will be back in January.
"I feel we can't complain with our injury situation because we have had periods where we have had many more injuries than now."
Wenger has ruled out dipping into the January transfer market should Vermaelen fail to recover as expected.
"We have players to deal with it if there is a setback," he said. "We have 25 players and you can't have more. Unless people move out, nobody can come in."