Vermaelen surgery a success

The defender went under the knife in Finland in a bid to bring an end to a persistent hamstring problem
Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen has undergone successful surgery on his hamstring injury and is expected to be out for four months.

The 29-year-old travelled to Finland where the operation was carried out, with his predicted length of absence more favourable than an earlier estimate of four to six months.

Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta offered his backing to the player on Monday and said he would perform "immediately" upon his return to full fitness.

Vermaelen is yet to make a competitive appearance for the Catalan club since joining from Arsenal in August for a reported €19 million, having signed while still recovering from a hamstring problem sustained at the World Cup.

Vermaelen was declared fit to return to action at the tail end of September but his comeback was postponed for a further two months before he was finally given the all-clear to make his debut in the Champions League clash with APOEL.

However, the versatile centre-half pulled up in training with a recurrence of his hamstring problem and the Belgium international will now likely miss the majority of the second half of the campaign.

Vermaelen has been plagued by muscular problems in recent seasons and had lost his place in the Arsenal starting line-up before departing for Catalunya during the summer.