Thomas Vermaelen is hopeful he can make his long-awaited Arsenal comeback before the end of the season.
The 25-year-old has not featured for the north Londoners since the end of August after continuous setbacks from an Achilles injury picked up on international duty.
Arsene Wenger suggested last month that the Belgian would not return for Arsenal before the season's end, but Vermalen maintains a faint hope that he will play a part in the run-in.
"I can understand my manager when he says that my season is over - I have been out for seven months and I must fulfil a complete 'pre-season', so it's logical that he won't take risks," he told Het Laatste Nieuws.
"Time is ticking away. I must first get fit again, then gain rhythm. So I've still a long way to go. I can kick a ball as hard as possible but that's not my problem. I need to run without pain.
"After surgery, you soon become impatient. I'm a player they have to slow down - that's my problem. I felt a little pain but I had something in my head - 'I'll cope with it'. That's wasn't too smart, you can't beat nature.
"After a few weeks, I personally indicated that I had to slow down. It didn't feel that comfortable, as it feels these days.
"I always thought I would be out for six weeks [after the surgery]. That was what I was told. So I never could anticipate this long absence. Maybe I would have preferred that I knew from the start."