By Chris Harris

Thomas Vermaelen’s injury is taking longer than expected to heal and he is still some way from full fitness.

The Belgian defender returned from international duty last month nursing an Achilles problem but was tipped for a quick return with Arsène Wenger suggesting he would miss just one game.

Instead, Vermaelen sat out all six matches last month, will miss Sunday’s trip to Chelsea and possibly even more.

“He is not close [to fitness],” admitted Wenger at his pre-match press conference.

“He has an Achilles problem and we had problems to sort it out.

“I don’t think he will require surgery but he needs more time. It is very slow to heal.”

Theo Walcott was also injured during the last international break, suffering an ankle problem. He was originally tipped for a mid-October return and could still meet that deadline.

“The last time he was injured was with the national team against Switzerland and he is still two to three weeks away,” said Wenger.

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1 Oct 2010