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Arsenal get Vermaelen boost

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen could return to the Arsenal first-team for Sunday's trip to face Stoke City after nine months out with an Achilles problem.

• Vermaelen: I'm fit to return

Vermaelen has been named in the squad and, as Johan Djourou and Gael Clichy face late fitness tests, could be involved after completing his comeback against Manchester United reserves last week. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: "Thomas Vermaelen is available and could be in the squad.''

With captain Cesc Fabregas and fellow midfielders Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri all out injured, midfielder Aaron Ramsey will get another chance to shine after his goal against United and returns to the scene of his horrific broken leg last February.

However, Wenger was quick to play down the significance of the Welshman's reunion with Ryan Shawcross, who made the offending tackle.

"I think if you respect Aaron let him prepare the game and play his game. I have nothing special to say," he told Arsenal's official website. "When you play football you try to control the ball well and make a good pass. When you do not have the ball you try to win it back. And you do not look who is against you. The foul happened [more than a] year ago. We cannot want to have a clean game and prepare football games like that.

"I said that many times that only Aaron can forgive Shawcross. He has been hurt and I don't think that is a needed debate before the game.

"I believe Aaron is 20 years old, he has a long career in front of him, so the earlier he plays in Stoke the better it is. The only thing that is important is to focus, to play well and win the game.

"I would not like to go into that debate at all because I don't think it's very healthy, especially not from you [the media] or from me."

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