Setback for Vermaelen

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen will undergo surgery on an Achilles problem on Tuesday which will sideline him for another month.

Vermaelen, 25, first injured his Achilles on international duty with Belgium in September and was originally scheduled to miss just a week.

But it has been four months since he played for Arsenal, with three unsuccessful comebacks forcing him to go under the knife in Sweden.

“I have already tried to come back three times, but the pain proved too much on each occasion,” Vermaelen told the Daily Mail.

“Recent tests showed a minor problem next to the Achilles tendon has been causing the pain. That’s why I’ll undergo surgery.”

“I knew I had a problem at the beginning of September, when I was preparing for Belgium’s games against Germany and Turkey. I didn’t want to miss them, but after the game in Turkey, the pain became too great.”

The news is a big blow to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who will be without one of his first-choice defenders for at least the first leg of his side’s Round of 16 Champions League clash with Barcelona.

But there is better news for Wenger, with midfielder Tomas Rosicky set to return to action against Leeds United on Wednesday.

The Czech midfielder missed Saturday’s 3-0 away win at West Ham due to illness but is likely to play in Arsenal’s third-round FA Cup replay at Elland Road.

“He was sick but had normal training on Saturday. He should be okay for Wednesday,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website.