Santi Cazorla admits to being “far” off a return to action at Arsenal but has rubbished any suggestion that he may be forced to retire.
The Spain international midfielder has been out of action since October 2016, when an Achilles problem forced him onto the treatment table.
He would sit out the remainder of the 2016-17 campaign as he struggled to edge his way back to full fitness, and will still be missing when the 2017-18 season kicks off in a matter of weeks.
Cazorla admits he is no nearer to being able to put a timescale on his recovery, but he is pleased with the progress being made in his rehabilitation.
He told Onda Cero: “I started my recovery two weeks ago. I’m still far [from playing]. I do not have strength in my tendon or muscle mass.
“I need time [to regain it] but I am very happy my recovery in this 15 days.
“I am fine but I do not want to set a return date because if I can’t fulfil it would be a big blow.
“I only think about the day to day. I really want to play again and I will work to get back as soon as possible.”
It has been suggested that the 32-year-old may never play again, so difficult has he found it to shake off a nagging ailment.
Cazorla is, however, adamant that he has given no thought to hanging up his boots, with there a determination on his part to prove any doubters wrong.
He added: “Do not pay attention to that. Those who want to retire me will get to see me [play] again. I will return.
“I do not know how far I am [off returning] but I am convinced that I am going to play football again and at my best level.
“I am working on it and hopefully it can be as soon as possible. I am convinced that I will come back.”
Cazorla joined Arsenal in the summer of 2012, fresh from helping Spain to a second European Championship success, and has gone on to make 180 appearances for the club.
He was, however, restricted to just 11 in all competitions last season and has only 12 months in which to prove his fitness after seeing Arsenal trigger an extension in his contract.