Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger remains hopeful that Santi Cazorla can make his long-awaited comeback from injury before the end of the season.
The Spain midfielder has made just 11 appearances this term, the last of which came in October's 6-0 Champions League win over Ludogorets, due to a problematic ankle injury.
Recent reports suggested the 32-year-old will remain unavailable for the remainder of the campaign after suffering a setback, but Wenger remains cautiously optimistic that he can still be involved this term.
"With Cazorla, I am not specialised enough to say when he will return because it is a special problem. I have not seen him in training, not even in fitness work," Wenger stated at a news conference ahead of this weekend's crunch Premier League clash with fellow top-four hopefuls Liverpool.
"It is possible he could play this season. It is about how he heals and once that is done he can practice normally.
"We are now at the beginning of March so it is very difficult to predict. You need six weeks after such a long interruption to compete for a place in the team.
"It is very frustrating for us. At the start of the season he was the star of the team. It’s a big loss and I am very sad for him. He suffers a lot not being on the football pitch."
Cazorla will not be the only absentee when Arsenal take on Liverpool, but Wenger also welcomes back a number of players for Saturday's clash.
"[Danny] Welbeck is in contention. He had some ups and downs with his knee problem and I followed the advice of medical people," Wenger added.
"[Aaron] Ramsey is back in full training and [Laurent] Koscielny as well.
"[Mesut] Ozil? We will see, I do not know. He should be okay.
"[Mohamed] Elneny has an ankle problem."
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