Arsenal winger Theo Walcott is unlikely to return until November after undergoing abdominal surgery, according to manager Arsene Wenger.
Walcott missed the Premier League win over Stoke City after complaining of pain during the warm-up, eventually being replaced by Serge Gnabry before the club confirmed the 24 year old would require surgery forcing him out until after next month's international break.
However, Wenger has contradicted that initial prognosis and says Walcott's absence could be for as long as five weeks, curtailing his involvement until November.
"[The surgery went] as well as it could go," Wenger said. "There were no complications. You know sometimes you open and you find an unexpected problem. It was very simple."
When asked about how long Walcott could be out for, the Arsenal boss responded: "Optimistic, three weeks. Realistic, five."
Walcott was already expected to miss Arsenal's weekend trip to Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion; the Champions League tie against Napoli as well as the climax to England's World Cup qualifying campaign against Montenegro and Poland but Wenger's confirmation points towards a longer spell on the sidelines.
The latest forecast regarding his return could see him miss another four games including the Premier League fixtures against Norwich City and Crystal Palace, the home game against Champions League runners-up Borussia Dortmund and the League Cup fourth round tie with Chelsea.
Five weeks out would see Walcott return for the league visit of Liverpool on 2 November and then the trip to Manchester United the following weekend.
The ex-Southampton winger adds to an injury crisis at Arsenal which sees seven first team players on the side-lines including Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski.
Both Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini however are available for the visit to Swansea on Saturday despite picking up respective thigh and shoulder problems.
"I'm quite optimistic about them," Wenger added. "Ramsey has a little thigh problem but he should be alright.
"He has a test. He is going back to Wales, certainly, for him it is always special. But you know Aaron Ramsey is a tough boy. He has a test and I think he will get through. No [I wouldn't want to take a risk on him]."