Radamel Falcao is facing at least another two weeks on the sidelines at Manchester United after admitting he is "training cautiously" in an effort to overcome his injury problems.
Although manager Louis van Gaal posted positive fitness updates on Daley Blind and David de Gea, both injured during the international break, the Dutchman conceded that Falcao remained at least a fortnight away from a return to action with a calf strain that has ruled him out of action for the past month.
Having signed Falcao on a season-long loan from Monaco in August, at the cost of a £6m loan fee and £265,000-a-week in wages, the Colombian forward has yet to deliver for Van Gaal, scoring just once for the club.
Falcao's prolonged absence has led to claims that the former Porto and Atletico Madrid forward is still struggling to overcome a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in January. But the player insists the only injury he is troubled by is the calf problem that has prevented him returning to the squad.
"I have been training cautiously and making daily improvements," Falcao said. "I am getting better, I feel well and I hope to come back to the pitch soon. It is disappointing that I can't play, but I have to be calm and recover because that is important to help the team when I return to the games.
"I did take a small injury to my calf, which is something that I need to be careful with, but there are a lot of stories circulating that are pure speculation."
Blind, meanwhile, could return to action before the end of the year after Van Gaal confirmed that the midfielder's knee injury was not as serious as initially feared.
Blind, a £13.8m summer signing from Ajax, was initially expected to be out for four-to-six weeks after injuring his left knee during Holland's Euro 2016 qualifier against Latvia in Amsterdam on Sunday.
But despite reports yesterday afternoon suggesting that Blind would be sidelined for six months, Van Gaal has admitted that the early assessments of the player's injury were over-pessimistic and that a clearer picture of his recovery process would become evident in the next 10 days.
"Blind is not ready to play," Van Gaal said. "He has now a brace on his knee, 10 days' rest and then we have to make another scan when we can say more about his injury. It is not so bad as the doctors were thinking after the match. It'll be a long story, I believe, but not six months."
When pressed on the full extent of Blind's injury, which has been diagnosed as medial ligament damage, Van Gaal was unable to put a definitive timescale on the 24-year-old's rehabilitation.
But the prognosis on the player is regarded as a positive development by United, who have also been boosted by De Gea's recovery from a finger injury in time to face Arsenal tomorrow.
De Gea had been a doubt for the trip to the Emirates after dislocating a finger while training with Spain prior to the Euro 2016 qualifier against Belarus a week ago, but Van Gaal confirmed that the goalkeeper was fit to play against Arsene Wenger's team.
"De Gea is good, no problem," Van Gaal said. "Angel di Maria has trained normally, and I don't think he is a question mark. Luke Shaw is a question-mark. I think with Michael Carrick, I have to wait until Friday, but I expect he is ready to play.
"But other players are not coming back in the squad - that's a different thing. My philosophy is that you have to train at least one week with the team - better two weeks. But when you see our circumstances, then maybe I have to bring players now in the squad, because of the circumstances."
Although Chris Smalling will return from suspension against Arsenal, United's injury list remains a lengthy one, with the manager admitting that several players are still unavailable.
"Falcao is not available," Van Gaal said. "(Jonny) Evans will play in the second squad next week and that is part his recovery.
"You've seen it with other players. Carrick had to do it. I think you have to make minutes to be fit enough to play on a higher level in the Premier League. The second team is a lower level. Rafael and (Phil) Jones are still not fit enough to train." (© Daily Telegraph, London)