Thomas Vermaelen has spoken of his fight to get fit and return to action with Arsenal after an injury lay-off.
And the Belgian defender has hinted that he may be available to face West Brom in the Capital One Cup clash at the Hawthorns later this month.
Gunner skipper Vermaelen aggravated a back problem before the club’s tour of Asia and was absent from the trip and has missed the early skirmishes of the season.
The central defender was dropped for the Champions League win at Bayern Munich in March and was on the fringes for the final 10 Premier League matches.
Manager Arsene Wenger preferred to partner Per Mertesacker with Laurent Koscielny and only started his captain once, when Mertesacker was suspended for the home win over Norwich.
Wenger was criticised for failing to recruit a central defender during the summer transfer window but he will be buoyed my Vermaelen’s progress.
And with Koscielny and Mertesacker established at the heart of the Arsenal back line, the cup encounter could be seen as a perfect opportunity for Vermaelen to get a game under his belt.
Vermaelen said: “The West Brom game is a few weeks ago yet and hopefully I will be closer to a return myself in the meantime.
“West Brom looks like an interesting draw – it looks like a tough game but a nice game too. It’s one we will take seriously and with a high focus.
“I can’t put a date on my comeback yet, as it depends on how I respond to the physical work I am doing, but I am focusing day by day and am really happy with how things are going so far.”