Arsene Wenger reveals captain Thomas Vermaelen could feature for Arsenal against Sunderland

Centre-back missed pre-season with a back injury

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger has revealed that Thomas Vermalen is back in full training, and could even be included in the squad to face Sunderland on Saturday.

The 27-year-old missed pre-season after suffering a back injury on international duty with Belgium in June. Back problems have been a long-standing concern for the defender.

"Vermaelen is back in full training. He is very close to being available and he could be in the squad on Saturday," Wenger said. "It is more likely to be Wednesday [for the Champions League opening fixture at Marseilles], but there is a possibility he might still travel to Sunderland."

Although club-captain, Vermaelen lost his place in the Arsenal side last season, owing to the blossoming centre-back partnership between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and was reportedly unhappy at having to fill in at left-back.

While Vermaelen is close to a return from a back injury, Wenger has confirmed that recent signing Yaya Sanogo will be sidelined with a back problem of his own.

"Sanogo has a back problem. He came back from the first game of the France Under-21s with it," Wenger said. "He is certainly out for Saturday."

Tomas Rosicky is Wenger’s only other new injury concern – the Czech midfielder returned from international duty with a hamstring problem and will not feature at the Stadium of Light. "Rosicky is out with a hamstring [issue]."

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