By Declan Taylor

Thomas Vermaelen is “very close” to returning from injury and could make his full debut against Everton on Saturday.

The Belgian centre-half, who signed for the Gunners in June, featured in Arsenal’s first four pre-season fixtures but missed the final three with a groin problem.

However, speaking after his side’s defeat against Valencia on Saturday, Arsène Wenger delivered some good news on the defender’s situation.

“He is very close,” the manager confirmed.

“If we had wanted to take a gamble then we could have played him but we did not want.

“He should be available for next weekend.”

Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 10 Aug 2009