Vermaelen faces ankle operation

Published Jan. 16, 2011 5:42 p.m. ET

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen will undergo ankle surgery and hopes to be fit by March.

The Belgium captain tells VRT network the operation will take place in Sweden on Tuesday.

Vermaelen has been out with an Achilles' injury since September but had been expected to return in January. The player said Sunday a small tendon needs to be removed which runs close to the Achilles tendon.

Vermaelen hopes he will be fully fit by the time Belgium faces Austria in a 2012 European Championship qualifier on March 25.