Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen will consider his playing situation after the World Cup, but remains certain his lack of game-time this season will have no effect on his hopes of representing Belgium this summer.
The centre back, who has often filled in on the left, has played second fiddle to established duo Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. He started just seven games in the Premier League this campaign, but managed a total of 21 appearances in what was a disappointing personal campaign.
Vermaelen did have the honour of lifting the FA Cup on Saturday however. The Belgium international was an unused substitute but had featured heavily in the domestic cup competition this season. Naturally he will be unsettled by the lack of regular action he is gaining, especially a player of his calibre and the stature he holds within the club.
The 28-year-old is solely focused on the impending World Cup for now and feels his time on the sidelines this season will not impact his match sharpness.
Vermaelen told The Sun:
I’ve a lot of experience of sitting on the bench then coming back so I’m not worried about being match fit.
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There is still plenty of preparation time for the World Cup and I will have the chance to play in a few friendly games before the tournament starts.
A lot of people are talking about this Belgian team and wondering how we will do in Brazil.
We are stepping into unknown territory. Only one player in our squad has experience of it.
For the rest of us, it will be the first time and we go there with ambition.
I am not thinking beyond that. Next season is the future and we will see about that.
Vermaelen certainly is experienced at spending time on the sidelines then jumping straight back into the thick of it. Not only this season, but he’s been hounded by injuries since his arrival from Ajax in 2009 and has stepped up his game since being dropped for THAT game against Bayern in 2013.
When required, the Belgian has been fantastic this season putting in some assured performances. However he remains firmly behind Mertesacker and Koscielny who complement each other nicely. The Gunners cannot afford to lose him however as they require at least three world class centre backs with injuries part and parcel of an Arsenal season.
The fact that his Belgian place is not in jeopardy for the tournament will provide some relief for him, and hopefully allow him to spend at least one more campaign with the Gunners next season to see if his situation improves.
Vermaelen also can take some pride in winning the FA Cup trophy after playing in three of the four matches enroute to the final, and was pleased to lift the Cup despite not featuring against Hull City.
I’ve played in the FA Cup this year against Tottenham, Everton and Wigan, and I’m the club captain so I was very happy to lift the trophy.
It was a good feeling that my team-mates wanted me to do that. This was the moment all the players have been waiting for.
It was certainly a nice, fitting gesture for Vermaelen to lift the trophy, he is the club captain and remains an integral member of the squad. He will not be short of offers this summer with Napoli already come knocking, so Arsene Wenger must do all he can to secure his services for at least one more season. We cannot afford to lose Sagna, Vermaelen and Fabianski in one window especially when we are short numbers-wise already.