After a long series of impressive performances to begin the season with, Carl Jenkinson has played himself into the England reckoning.
The young right back has received plaudits from the media, Arsene Wenger and the England coaching staff for his consistent start to the season and he was given the chance to train with the national team on Sunday.
This is all quite remarkable given the extremely difficult start he had to his Arsenal career.
Whilst he made improvements during the course of last season, starting this season with Jenkinson as the only fit first team right back filled most Gunners fans with apprehension. Serious question marks remained over positioning, strength, technical ability and balance for the ex-Charlton defender.
This is not to do him a disservice; after all it was only in 2010 that Jenkinson was turning out for Eastbourne borough whilst on loan from Charlton. Such a rapid rise was never going to be easy. Despite all this, the confidence of the Arsenal management in his ability now appears justified.
Jenkinson’s attacking energy, defensive reliability and obvious passion for the club have come to the fore in the early stages of the 2012-13 season. His improvements have been nothing short of incredible and he deserves praise for the effort he is putting into progressing as a top class footballer. With Bacary Sagna’s imminent return to fitness, Arsenal appear to have genuine competition at right back for the first time in a number of seasons.
Sagna himself has said that Jenkinson has the potential to be ‘one of the best’; however at this stage you would have to think that the experienced French international remains 1st choice. Sagna, after all, is widely considered to be one of the best right backs in the world. He is strong, aggressive, good in the air and keen to get forward. Although Jenkinson may argue that he puts a better cross in, Sagna’s all round game is more complete and he is more assured in possession when under pressure.
Sagna’s probable return to the team as 1st choice should take nothing away from Jenkinson; to be competing with a world class defender at the age of 20 is an achievement in itself. Jenkinson’s rise is yet more evidence of Wenger’s continued eye for a talent that no one else can spot.