Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that his captain Thomas Vermaelen will miss the start of the new campaign after suffering a back injury towards the end of last season.
The Belgium centre-back has not flown out with the club to Asia for their Far East pre-season tour and is now set to miss the opening stages of the 2013/14 season.
The Gunners, who thrashed an Indonesia XI 7-0 on Sunday, will only have two recognised centre-backs fit for the start of the season now after they released Sebastian Squillaci and loaned-out Johan Djourou to German side Hamburg.
That leaves only Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as the only centre-backs in the Arsenal first-team.
The injury picked up by Vermaelen could see Arsene Wenger renew his interest in Swansea City defender Ashley Williams, who was on Wenger's radar back in January.
In recent weeks, the £10m price-tag has put Wenger off making a formal bid for the Welshman, but now he has confirmed that his skipper will be injured until September, he may think again about signing the Swansea defender.
Wenger told reporters: "He had a back problem. He came back with it and couldn’t practice until now. We don't know how long he will be out for. There is nothing behind that at all.
"Will he stay as captain? It depends. I cannot stick with him now because I think he will miss the start of the season.
"But certainly he will still be the club captain.
"Mikel Arteta will take the armband in Vermaelen's absence."
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