By Chris Harris

Thomas Vermaelen will undergo a procedure to cure his troublesome Achilles injury and should be back in “four to six weeks”.

The Belgian defender has not played since September 7 when he completed 90 minutes for his country in a Euro 2012 qualifier against Turkey. He returned to England with a tendon problem and was expected back in action within a week.

More than four months on Vermaelen is still waiting for his first-team comeback but Arsène Wenger believes the 25-year-old will return in February. In an exclusive interview with Arsenal TV Online, the manager clarified the next steps on his road to recovery.

“It’s not a real surgery,” said Wenger. “It is to take out a little [tendon] next to his [Achilles] tendon. It is to open it a little bit and cut out the [tendon] that has been causing the friction. It is a procedure, that is the right medical term.

“We are very optimistic that [this will cure the problem]. But of course it is now what you call in football a little bit longer delay of four to six weeks.”

According to some reports, Vermaelen has targeted the first leg of the Champions League tie with Barcelona on February 16 for his comeback. That falls within Wenger’s time-frame but the Frenchman knows his centre back will need games before he can perform at the top level.

“Let’s count the weeks to Barcelona and you will know,” said Wenger. “I count a minimum of four weeks, maximum six, so it is not an unrealistic target.

“But don’t forget as well he is a little bit in the situation of Aaron Ramsey, he has not played since the beginning of September, that means he will need some games to be completely fit.”

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 17 Jan 2011