Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has had an injection to ease a long-term back problem but there is still no date for his return to action.
Ferdinand, 31, has made only eight appearances for his club this season and missed the last 13 games.
"There is no light at the end of the tunnel," admitted United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
"It is difficult to put a timescale on a back injury but I don't think he is too far away."
Ferdinand also missed last month's England's friendly against Brazil but the former West Ham and Leeds defender insisted last week that there was "no question" he will be fit for next summer's World Cup finals.
His more immediate aim is to regain full fitness and boost a United defence that has been weakened in recent weeks by injuries to Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown, Gary Neville, John O'Shea, Jonny Evans, and Rafael and Fabio da Silva.
"We gave Rio an injection just over two weeks ago so we have to let that settle for a week, then he can go back into the gym work and do some more core work," said Ferguson.
"We are just hoping that pain goes away."
Ferguson added: "Rio is quite a composed and laid-back lad. He has never shown any effect of the injury from a mental standpoint but I have no doubt he will be feeling it because he is a footballer and footballers want to play.
"He will be thinking about all sorts, the run-in to the league and important games coming up and he is missing them. It is not easy for him."
Source: BBC Sport
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