More bad luck for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is now at risk of losing his international place.

When handed the Arsenal captaincy last summer, Thomas Vermaelen would have been right to expect to play a key role in any success the club enjoyed over the forthcoming season.

While finishing fourth could be considered only the minimum acceptable requirement when analysing 'success' from the 2012/13 season - Thomas Vermaelen ended it as a peripheral figure.

In fact when he was axed from the side by Arsene Wenger it was seen as the moment when Arsenal's fortunes improved, with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny forming a solid central defensive partnership.

Vermaelen has even been linked with being sold this summer, but he says he wants to stay and fight for his place at the club.

But in the meantime his 2013 is getting worse, for an injury is likely to cause him a big headache when it comes to his international ambitions.

When Belgium played their last competitive international fixtures, Vermaelen got the nod to play alongside Vincent Kompany in central defence.

But competition for the spot is intense, with Spurs' Jan Vertonghen keen to play there rather than be shunted to left-back, Ajax's Toby Alderweireld, Bayern's Daniel van Buyten and Zenit St Petersburg's Nicolas Lombaerts battling for it.

So it will come as a blow to Vermaelen that injury has ruled him out of their upcoming World Cup Qualifier against Serbia.

Belgium are joint-top of their group, level on points with Croatia, and cannot afford a slip up.

Vermaelen played in the friendly against USA last week but was taken off after 40 minutes after falling awkwardly after making a challenge. He has now been officially declared unavailable for the Serbia game.

If his replacement comes in and performs adeptly, it will be bad news for Vermaelen as manager Marc Wilmots will have a real headache for future fixtures.

With Vermaelen currently third choice at his club, this injury could just be the tipping point which sees him lose his international place.

And given that the 2014 World Cup is just one year away, the last thing the defender wants to do in a year's time is be sitting that one out.

What do you believe the future holds for Vermaelen?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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