Thomas Vermaelen return delayed by back injury

Thomas Vermaelen
© PA Photos
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is ruled out of the club's pre-season tour of Asia with a persistent back injury.

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has been forced to delay his return to pre-season training by a persistent back problem.

Vermaelen aggravated the recurring injury in his lower back while on international duty with Belgium last month, with massage treatment also required on a related thigh strain.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has now been forced to rule the defender out of Thursday's travelling squad for their pre-season tour of Asia with a suspected cracked bone in his lower back, according to The Mirror.

The 27-year-old endured a frustrating end to last season, with Wenger preferring the central defensive partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker for the final 10 Premier League matches.

Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny in action against Blackburn on February 16, 2013
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