Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen needs operation on achilles and could be out for six weeks

By John Edwards and Laura Williamson for MailOnline

Arsenal have been plunged into a defensive crisis after it emerged last night that Thomas Vermaelen needs an operation on the achilles injury that has kept him out since August.

Sportsmail can reveal that the 25-year-old centre back has been booked in for surgery on an inflamed tendon and that he faces up to another six weeks out.

‘There is some inflammation that will not go away, and it has been decided that an operation is the only answer,’ said a source.

‘A month is the most optimistic view of how much longer he will be out but it is likely to be nearer six weeks.’

Injury blow: Vermaelen's last game for Arsenal was the 2-1 win over Blackburn on August 28

Injury blow: Vermaelen's last game for Arsenal was the 2-1 win over Blackburn on August 28

It is a blow for Arsenal as they go to Ipswich tonight for the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final.

His prolonged absence, following an injury playing for Belgium that was expected to keep him out for no longer than a fortnight, has forced Wenger to consider a rare sortie into the transfer market, with Bolton centre back Gary Cahill and Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker thought to be his top targets.

Sebastien Squillaci will also be out for ‘two to three weeks’ after suffering a hamstring tear in the 1-1 FA Cup clash with Leeds.

Bacary Sagna is serving a three-match ban but Wenger has Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou available and Ignasi Miquel, 18, who was on the bench against Leeds, is expected to play.

The Gunners have not won a trophy since May 2005 when they beat Manchester United in the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium.

The Arsenal boss said: ‘Of course I want to end our run. Once you’re in the semi-final of the Carling Cup you don’t want to go out. I see it as a possibility of a trophy and that’s how we will approach the semi-final.’

On the sidelines: Squillaci could be out of action for three weeks

On the sidelines: Squillaci (left) could be out of action for three weeks

New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry is training with Arsenal until next Wednesday, during the MLS off-season.

Wenger added: ‘He is one of the greatest players this club have ever had, he has done a huge

service to this club, and the only way we can pay him back is always to be welcoming, like we do with all our former players.’

Ipswich v Arsenal.jpg

Meanwhile, Gareth McAuley has rocked Ipswich on the eve of their biggest match for years by rejecting a new deal.

The defender is among 21 players out of contract in the summer and tonight could be his last game for the Championship strugglers, who sacked Roy Keane last week and were thrashed 7-0 at Chelsea in the FA Cup.

New manager Paul Jewell does not start work until tomorrow and caretaker boss Ian McParland said: ‘My pride was hurt and the players’ pride was hurt but Chelsea had been waiting to give somebody a tanking.

‘Now the players have to go out and enjoy playing in front of a capacity crowd and I expect them to sweat blood.’

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now