Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has ruled Jack Wilshere out of this weekend's Premier League game with Reading but says he is optimistic that the midfielder's ankle problem will not keep him out for too long.
Wilshere has not played since Arsenal's 2-1 loss at north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on March 3 and had been expected to feature against Reading on Saturday after a period of rehabilitation that included a visit to Dubai.
However, Wenger says that he will not be ready to return for at least two weeks.
"Wilshere's injury is not better or worse. It was an inflammation of his (ankle) bone and we had such history with him, we are a bit more cautious than we would be with you or with me," Wenger told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
"We deferred a little bit his rehab by one week. We gave him one more week rest because it was wise medically to do it.
"Honestly, it's very difficult (to predict when he will be back). I believe in two weeks on Sunday. That means not the next game; the game after."
Wilshere missed the whole of last season with knee and ankle problems, and Wenger said that as a result, Arsenal are unwilling to take any chances with him.
"We will rest him when it is needed. He has regular scans and as soon as we have an alert, we will respect it no matter what is at stake," Wenger said.
Wenger also revealed that Theo Walcott is due to receive more treatment after picking up what the Arsenal manager described as a "minor hip/groin injury" while on international duty with England.
The Frenchman said he had no qualms about the way Walcott had been handled by England though.
"We have a good relationship (with England) and I have no concern about that," he said. "Walcott's (injury) is an accident that could have happened here."
After thrashing San Marino 8-0, England were held to a 1-1 draw by Montenegro on Tuesday that left Roy Hodgson's side in second place in their World Cup qualifying group.
Asked to comment on England's fortunes, Wenger offered the opinion that the team would be more successful if their players were concentrated at only a couple of clubs.
Wenger cited the example of world and European champions Spain, whose squad is usually dominated by players from Barcelona and Real Madrid.
"What people forget about Spain, and what they do not talk enough about, is the big advantage of a good national team is when it is based on two (club) teams," Wenger said.
"In the starting line-up of Spain, you have many times seven players from Barcelona, three or four from Real Madrid. The other night (Arsenal left-back Nacho) Monreal was the only player who was not from Barcelona or Real Madrid.
"That is a massive advantage when you go into a game like that, because you can play like a club. If we can have four, five or six (England players) at one club, it will become a massive advantage for England.
"At the moment, all of these players are spread everywhere. To look like a good team, you have moments like that where you play well for one half, then suddenly something disappears and you have no team anymore, because the players come from too many clubs."
Arsenal, who trail Tottenham by four points in the battle for Champions League qualification, have fitness concerns over left-back Kieran Gibbs (flu) and midfielder Abou Diaby (knee) ahead of Saturday's home game with Reading.