Arsenal teen Jenkinson keen to choose England over the Finns

 

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The Independent Football

The Football Association have the opportunity this month to secure the international future of the new Arsenal right-back Carl Jenkinson who is the subject of intense interest from Finland for whom he is eligible to play through his Finnish mother.

The 19-year-old made an assured senior debut for Arsenal as a second-half substitute against Udinese on Tuesday night, playing at left-back, following the injuries to Kieran Gibbs and Johan Djourou. He is on the FA's radar and there is an opportunity for Stuart Pearce to name him in the Under-21s squad that come out next week for the games against Azerbaijan (1 September) and Israel four days later.

It is understood that Jenkinson's preference is to play for England at senior level. He represented England at Under-17 level but switched to Finland for Under-19s football when he was ignored by England. He was even called up for a Finland squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier against San Marino in June but he refused on the grounds that a full international cap for Finland would have meant the end of his hopes of playing for England.

His mother Hayde is from the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland and Jenkinson himself is fluent in Swedish. His father Steve was an 800m runner who ran at a very high standard and trained with Sebastian Coe. Jenkinson's own fitness results in pre-season impressed Arsenal staff.

Jenkinson looks very likely to start against Liverpool on Saturday given the number of injuries to Arsenal first-team players. In terms of the Under-21s, at right-back Jenkinson is potentially up against John Flanagan from Liverpool as well as Kieran Trippier (Burnley, on loan from Manchester City) and Jordan Spence (Bristol City, on loan from West Ham). Tottenham's Kyle Walker has become the understudy to Glen Johnson in the England senior team.

Jenkinson grew up in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, and is a lifelong Arsenal fan. His £1m move from Charlton Athletic this summer came after just eight appearances. Less than a year ago he was playing on loan at Eastbourne Borough and then Welling United in the Conference and Conference South respectively.

Jenkinson said Arsenal's 1-0 win over Udinese put them in control for Wednesday's return. "Two clean sheets is very positive for us," he said.

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