Thomas Vermaelen putting injury nightmare behind him at Barcelona

Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen is keen to make up for lost time as he bids to put an injury-hit first season with the club behind him.

Vermaelen, 29, signed a five-year deal with Barcelona last summer after a £15 million transfer from Arsenal but made just one start in all competitions.

The centre-back, who underwent surgery due to a recurring hamstring problem in December, was able to complete the preseason with Barca to improve his fitness.

Vermaelen has spoken about his difficult start with Barca, telling the club's official website: "It was very difficult for a lot of reasons but mainly because I was suffering from injury.

"You come to a new club and want to prove your worth, but you can't because of an injury. I had to also adapt to a new life, new coach, new city. It was tough.

"For any player, it's fundamental to get through preseason without any problems. It was very important and that's why my start to the league has been better."

Vermaelen has been in the first XI in Barca's opening two league wins, 1-0 triumphs at Athletic Bilbao and against Malaga.

He returned from international duty this week after starting for Belgium in a 3-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina and a 1-0 triumph at Cyprus -- both Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Playing at next year's tournament in France is an aim for Vermaelen, who featured for Belgium in just one game at the World Cup in Brazil due to injury.

His priority, though, is to continue playing regularly for Barca.

"I want to play as many games as possible," he said. "I'm at a big club and it's not easy to get a game. But I want to improve as a player and play as much as I can."

Barca are coming off a Primera Division, Copa del Rey and Champions League Treble-winning campaign.

Luis Enrique's side also lifted the UEFA Super Cup last month in a thrilling 5-4 triumph over Sevilla in Tbilisi, Georgia.

"It'll be a very long season," Vermaelen said. "The ambitions are the same. We won the Treble last season and we know it won't be easy to do it again, but we'll try to.

"We have the same team. Our ambitions are intact and we'll do all we can, game by game, and see what happens."

Despite his tough first season with Barcelona, Vermaelen, who will turn 30 in November, is thrilled with where he is in his career.

"If they had told me 10 years ago that I'd be playing for FC Barcelona, I wouldn't have believed it," he said.

"I'm very happy with how my career has gone and the clubs I've played for."