Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has confirmed that Jay Rodriguez has suffered a setback in his recovery from injury.
Rodriguez has been on the sidelines since April after he damaged knee ligaments in a match against Manchester City, but he was expected to be back before the end of 2014.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Rodriguez will not play again until the end of January at the earliest, and Koeman acknowledged his ongoing absence is a blow.
"He has had to take a step back in his recovery and that was a pity," Koeman said. "When we spoke about the squad in the preseason, we said he would be a fantastic sign-up for December and January and he isn't.
"All these injuries are making up the difficult time we have, but he needs time. We will give him that time. It is a pity because he is a great player.
"It is not good to fix on a special date when he will come back. He is making steps forward and needs more time, but I don't want to put pressure on the player and the medical staff."