Per Mertesacker has suffered a setback on his return due to injury, Arsene Wenger has confirmed ahead of Arsenal's FA Cup clash against Preston North End on Saturday (7 January).
The German defender returned to training in December after recovering from a knee injury that he suffered before the start of the season. Mertesacker was hoping to return to action in the New Year, but will have to postpone it by at least another month after suffering a calf problem during training.
The French manager revealed that it was a minor problem, but owing to his lack of game time this season, he is expected to be out for at least four more weeks. The former Germany international will have his task cut out when he returns to the first-team as he is now fourth choice centre-back with Gabriel Paulista, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi ahead of him in the pecking order.
"No. He had a little calf problem. He's on the pitch but not close. He's still three or four weeks away, not more," Wenger said ahead of the FA Cup third round clash, as quoted by Arsenal's official site.
The 32-year-old former Germany international is out of contract at the end of the season, and had made it clear that getting an extension is his main priority once he returns from injury. Wenger has now confirmed that he has an option to extend for another year on his current deal, and the club are likely to exercise their option to keep him at the Emirates Stadium for at least another season.
Similarly, Santi Cazorla, who is also out injured at the moment, is also out of contract at the end of the campaign, but will be handed a one-year extension. The Spaniard is also keen to remain with the club, and Wenger has made it clear that he has a future at Arsenal despite his injury concerns.
"We have an option on both of them and I think we will take it," the French coach said regarding extending Mertesacker and Cazorla's contracts.