Thomas Vermaelen has seen his chances of regaining a starting place take a massive blow after a back injury looks set to rule him out of preseason reports the Daily Mail.

Vermaelen was handed the captain's armband before the start of the 2012/13 Premier League season with the departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United. 

He was a popular choice and was widely expected to replicate his countryman, Vincent Kompany's heroics as Manchester City skipper.

However, the defender christened "The Verminator" could not quiet cope up to the pressure of the armband and suffered an alarming dip in form. 

He was benched in the run in, and the central defensive pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker performed admirably to ensure another top four finish, and Vermaelen was not missed. 

Some of the latter's performances, especially in the humiliating defeat at home against Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup where the skipper could not prevent Kazim Richards' scuffed effort trickle in to the goal for an embarrassing exit from the tournament in front of home fans, and in the derby match in the league away at White Hart lane, were rather woeful.

After vowing to stay at the club and fight for his place it was expected that a fully fit Vermaelen could earn his way back in to the team. However, due to a chronic back injury, he may find his chances limited.

He reportedly suffered the injury whilst on international duty in May and, along with a thigh injury, may keep him out of the start of the season. 

It is also a worrying sign for Wenger, with Johann Djourou having already left the club on loan, it leaves him with just the impressive duo of Mertesacker and Koscielny, and he will be hoping for his skipper to recover fast or he might have to fast track Ignasi Miguel to the subs bench or dip into the transfer market to make a purchase he might not have otherwise planned.

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