Tottenham's bid for a top-four finish has taken a blow with the news that defender Younes Kaboul may not be fit until the end of February.
Kaboul emerged as arguably Tottenham's best centre-half after a series of confident displays last year, but he has not kicked a ball this term after suffering a knee injury in pre-season.
"He's on a six-week programme from the medical staff and starting to work now with the fitness coaches," assistant manager Steffen Freund told a press conference. "It's difficult to say now which game he will be back but hopefully mid- or end of February."
Although Spurs sit fourth in the Barclays Premier League, Kaboul's confidence and leadership would help eradicate the problem of conceding late goals which has cost Andre Villas-Boas' men dearly this term.
Freund is therefore looking forward to having the Frenchman back in the ranks next month.
"He's a really important part of Tottenham," the German said.
"He has a lot of leadership qualities and we are waiting to have him back as quickly as possible.
"He is frustrated. He likes to be involved - especially when you are successful."
Freund did offer some good news from the treatment room, however.
Left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who has not played since September, is fit to start Saturday's FA Cup third-round clash against Coventry, Freund confirmed.