Thomas Vermaelen targets Arsenal return this season

Thomas Vermaelen playing for Arsenal reserves
Vermaelen played against Manchester United reserves on Thursday

Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen has said he is fit after recovering from the Achilles tendon injury that sidelined him for seven months.

The 25-year-old came through Thursday's reserves game unscathed but he has been left out of the team to face Manchester United at the Emirates on Sunday.

"Physically I feel good," the Belgian defender told Arsenal's website after the reserve match against United.

"It's up to the boss [Arsene Wenger]. I hope I'll be back in the squad soon."

Vermaelen damaged his Achilles tendon while playing for Belgium in a Euro 2012 qualifier in Turkey on 7 September, with an initial assessment suggesting he would be out for only a week.

However, the injury refused to heal and Vermaelen underwent surgery in January.

"It's been really frustrating because at the beginning I thought it was only going to be one week or a few days and I kept getting setbacks," he added.

"It was a hard time but from these kind of situations you learn a lot. Your mental strength will be better and you always have to focus.

"It's always important for players to have a good pre-season but for me it will be good to be fit before [the] holiday. I can go into the holiday with a clear head and come back fresh."