Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that Toby Alderweireld is only expected back in February after suffering a setback with his hamstring injury.
The Belgium international has been sidelined since the problem forced him off early on in Spurs' 3-1 win over Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League on November 1.
The north London club had initially pencilled in a January return for Alderweireld, but his injury is proving to be more troublesome than first thought.
They will be hard pressed to get the 28-year-old defender back before a string of tough games against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Juventus.
"We cannot change the reality, the reality is that he is injured and cannot play until February," Pochettino said in his pre-match press conference for Wednesday's clash with Brighton.
"I think with him or without him we win and we lose. Of course the manager always wants all the players to be fit to play like (Victor) Wanyama, Danny Rose or (Erik) Lamela before.
"Always you are going to miss the players that are not fit but that is normal. But for me football is about the team, it is not about individual players.
"Of course some players have more influence on the team but I think we have a good enough squad and players that can play, and win or lose it is about the quality of performance if we miss one or another player."