Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Steve Sidwell will remain sidelined for Tuesday night's (28 November) M23 derby clash with Crystal Palace and the weekend visit of Liverpool, although manager Chris Hughton is hopeful that he can resume light training next week.
Sidwell, who returned for his third spell on the south coast last summer after spending the second half of the 2015-16 season on loan from Stoke City, signed a new one-year contract extension in June to remain with Brighton following their first return to the top-flight since 1983.
The 34-year-old made 37 appearances across all competitions during the Seagulls' memorable promotion season, but has yet to play at all in 2017-18 after going under the knife in early September to correct an injury that had been affecting him for six months.
He was subsequently rushed into surgery to correct a prolapsed disc pressing against the nerve.
Such a procedure was described as being minor and, while an exact time frame for his recovery was not initially made public, Brighton did not expect the player to be "absent for a prolonged period".
It was later estimated that he would be sidelined for approximately two months, although Sidwell, a veteran of 200 Premier League appearances with Reading, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Fulham and Stoke, has yet to make his return.
Brighton will still be without the former Arsenal trainee tomorrow as Brighton welcome Palace to the Amex for the first-ever Premier League meeting between two fierce but unlikely rivals, while Saturday's fixture against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool will also come too soon.
However, provided he suffers no further setbacks after returning to outside work, it could be that Sidwell is back in contention for a busy festive schedule that sees last year's Championship runners-up take on Watford, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Bournemouth after matches against Huddersfield Town, Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley.
Hughton has no new injury worries to contend with ahead of the double-header against Palace and Liverpool. Central midfielder Beram Kayal remained on the bench for the entirety of a hard-fought 1-0 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday after playing three times for the Under-23s as part of his recovery from surgery on a fractured fibula sustained during a pre-season friendly against Atletico Madrid in August.
In the absence of Kayal and Sidwell, Brighton, who remain ninth in the table more than a third of the way through the season after losing only two of their last eight league matches, have mostly deployed Dale Stephens and summer signing Davy Propper in support of Pascal Gross and the evergreen Glenn Murray.