Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has refused to answer questions on Adam Lallana's injury status, only revealing the Saints captain would miss this weekend's match against Sunderland.
The 24-year-old limped off in the first half of the 1-0 defeat of fellow strugglers Reading on December 8 with a knee complaint. There has been no official word from the club since then on the severity of Lallana's injury, leading to speculation that it could rule him out for several months.
Adkins was peppered with questions about the issue throughout the 15-minute press conference, admitting that the problem was not as bad as first feared and that he knows when the attacking midfielder is likely to return. However, any hope of finding out the official prognosis was dashed by manager Adkins, who said: "Adam is still in his knee brace."
He added: "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."
Asked for further clarification, Adkins added: "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."
The Saints boss was more forthcoming when it came to Lallana's importance to the team.
"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 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."
The indications are, though, that Lallana could be back sooner rather than later, with midfielder Jack Cork suggesting a first-team return could soon be in the pipeline.
"Adam hasn't trained this week and it is up to the manager if he plays this weekend or not," he said. "We will just have to see what the manager is thinking about Adam."