Ex-Arsenal skipper Thomas Vermaelen closing on Barcelona debut

Thomas Vermaelen Pre FA Cup Press Conference

Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen has been medically cleared and will play his first game of the season in 'one to two weeks'.

In an interview with Cadena Cope, Dr. Sakari Orava, the man who operated on Vermaelen four months ago, has announced that after the Belgian international returned to full team training this week, his long-awaited return to the pitch is now just "one to two weeks" away.

He said: "Vermaelen could play in one or two weeks. He's upbeat, I had to reassure him that it's very difficult to get started again."

Vermaelen arrived at Barcelona on the insistence of former sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, who urged the club to sign the defender despite being fully aware that he was still carrying an injury from the 2014 World Cup, an injury that would prevent him from starting the season and would require surgery.

Following the operation, Orava estimated that the 29-year-old would be out for four to five months, but the defender has worked diligently on his recovery and is now set to finally make his Barcelona debut, with the blaugrana facing Celta Vigo in their first match following the international break.

With Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra and Javier Mascherano all on international duty this week, the door is open for Vermaelen to even start against Celta Vigo, although manager Luis Enrique may not want to throw the defender directly into the fire after a gruelling eight months.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch