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Vermaelen: I am unsure if I deserve to wear captain's armband for Belgium

The Arsenal defender admits he is unsure as to when, if at all, he will regain his first team place at his club, and subsequently for the World Cup.

The pre-season injury to Thomas Vermaelen could not have come at a worse time for the Belgian.

The centre-back was dropped from the first team at the end of last season after a 2-1 loss to Tottenham, and from that point forward the Gunners went on a winning spree.

Captain of the club, Vermaelen was not alone in being the problem, but clearly he was part of it, and dropping the defender was when it started to go right for Arsene Wenger.

He needed a strong start to the campaign to make up for that, but his injury has meant his season is only just about to begin.

So with the World Cup around the corner too, Vermaelen has a particular incentive to re-assert his authority at Arsenal this season, and try and win his place back from one of Per Mertesacker or Laurent Koscielny.

Having missed the first months of the season, the defender is fit again, but has not been handed a start by his manager, also left out of Belgium's decisive World Cup qualifier at Croatia on Friday.

Now with qualification assured, Vermaelen will be handed a start by coach Wilmots for Belgium against Wales on Tuesday evening.

It represents a perfect chance for the defender to play himself back into form, and show Arsene Wenger what he can do by helping keep Aaron Ramsey quiet.

He has been speaking in his homeland about his predicament at the Gunners, with HLN reporting him as saying: 

"I'm not worried about my situation at Arsenal, everything can indeed change so quickly in football. It all takes a long time, but I do not panic.

"I am very happy that I again can play, because I miss natural match practice . On training I feel good and I have faith in my current form. But playing games is something else, of course."

He sounds confident, and positive he will get a chance - possibly even this weekend if Wenger practices caution against Norwich with Laurent Koscielny's latest knock. But his comment about not being worried does not ring entirely true when he elaborates further:

"I also realize that (to) always sit on the bench at Arsenal is not the ideal way to prepare for a World Cup. Before I talk a lot with coach Arsene Wenger, but get no guarantees. So it is now wait and do my best at training. But the team plays well and so it's hard to get back into it."

Vermaelen is evidently a little anxious, having lost his selection in the national team, and with it a little confidence. His final comment is more telling of his thought processes.

He has been pencilled in as captain for the clash if he plays against Wales with Vincent Kompany out injured, but questions whether he is the right selection.

"I'm still not sure if I should wear the captain's armband but it would at least be an honour."

This is relevant to Arsenal because it is likely the centre-back feels the same if and when he is called upon to go back into the Arsenal side. 

Having been publicly dropped, and absent from a winning side for so long, it will be difficult for him to feel as though he deserves the authority he needs to perform the role to the best of his ability.

Whether Wenger have handed it to another player on a permanent basis over the summer is now irrelevent at this point.

Arsenal need the defender to be at the top of his game, full of confidence. The first part of the interview sounds like bravado, the second far more revealing as to his mindset.

Fans will hope a positive performance for Belgium will help bring back the 'old fearless Thomas Vermaelen', who who showed why he deserved the captaincy in the first place.

Can Vermaelen recover his old form? What do you think of his comments?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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