Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla has revealed that he remains on course for a January return, despite recently being informed that he is simply lucky to still be able to walk.
The 32-year-old has been a long-term absentee for the Gunners, failing to play a single minute since picking up what appeared to be a minor injury in October 2016.
Cazorla has had a succession of setbacks over the past year, in which time he has undergone eight operations, including a complex procedure to take tattooed skin from his arm and graft it onto his right ankle.
In an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, the former Villarreal and Malaga ace revealed the full extent of the damage, which almost forced him to have his foot amputated.
"I don't have a spot until January but my intention is to return by then," he said. "I never listened to those that said that I would only be able to play football with my children, I have plenty of football left in me.
"In the early stages it was feeling a little better, if I got warmed up I could play, but at the break when I cooled down a bit, I would cry. At that time I was still playing and [the doctors] told me it was okay. The problem was that it did not heal and the wounds would reopen and become infected.
"If you're able to walk in the garden with your son again, you should be satisfied, they told me. I had a tremendous infection. It had damaged part of the calcaneus (heel) bone and had eaten eight centimetres of the Achilles tendon."
Cazorla has featured 129 times for Arsenal in the Premier League since joining from Malaga in 2012, scoring 25 goals in all.