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Thomas Vermaelen return delayed by back injury

Vermaelen return delayed by back injury
© 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.

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