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Vermaelen nowhere near return

Thomas Vermaelen's injury hell shows no sign of coming to an end with the player revealing he has no idea when he will be able to play again.

• Djourou out with shoulder injury
• Fans concerned by prices

Vermaelen, 25, has not featured for Arsenal since the end of August and has made just three Premier League appearances this term. It has been a huge blow to Arsenal's hopes of winning silverware with Vermaelen their most dominant and consistent centre back.

An Achilles injury was diagnosed in September, after his return from Euro 2012 qualifying duty with Belgium. It has been reported that the issue is not the Achilles tendon itself but another tendon in the area which not all people have and is said to serve no purpose.

It was thought Vermaelen would miss only six weeks after having surgery on the problem, but he has not even been close to playing again.

He recently spent a week of intensive rehabilitation treatment in the Netherlands but it appears unlikely that Vermaelen will be available for selection again this season.

And in an interview with Belgium newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Vermaelen revealed that he has already suffered six relapses during his recovery.

"I feel no trouble in the Achilles tendon itself, but the muscles around it still need to be made stronger," he said. "I do not know when I will be back.

"At first they said I would need four or six weeks after the operation. But it soon became apparent that it would last longer. I'm not even in training. I'm still working on my exercises to come back. This is a tough mental test.

"I relapsed six times. That was hard. Every time I had a goal to come back, but that was then broken again and again.

"I am now cautious. It is frustrating that I cannot play. I had never been injured for so long. On some days it's mentally very tough but I see this as a test. Perhaps it is also good for my career and it will make me stronger mentally."

Arsenal are also likely to be without Swiss international Johan Djourou for the rest of the campaign after he suffered a shoulder injury against Manchester United on Saturday, leaving manager Arsene Wenger short on options in central defence.

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