Arsène Wenger believes that a good season from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could propel him into the England squad for next summer's European Championship.
The 18-year-old scored a hat-trick for England Under-21s last Thursday, and the Arsenal manager yesterday said that people should be "open-minded" to Oxlade-Chamberlain's possible promotion to the seniors.
"I don't rule him out," Wenger said. "That depends on his progress here. Sometimes you are a bit too quick in England for that, but you cannot rule him out because he has the basic talent. In the next five, six months we will see how he adjusts to the physical intensity of the game. Let's see where he stands in March and let's be open-minded."
While Wenger said that people should not demand that Oxlade-Chamberlain be selected after only a few good games, he suggested that a good season could well be rewarded by involvement in Poland and Ukraine. "Let's give him six or seven months. If in March, he has made a big step forward, why not?"
As Wenger is confident that Oxlade-Chamberlain has the "quality already for top level Premier League games", he believes the decisive factor will be the youngster's attitude and application. "The mentality kicks in now, that will decide his career," he said. "I am positive about it because he can deal with the pressure. How much will he be demanding of himself? That will make his career."
Another of Arsenal's English youngsters, Carl Jenkinson will begin a long spell of deputising at right-back in tomorrow's home match against Sunderland, with Bacary Sagna out for the next three months. The 19-year-old has already started four games this season since his arrival from Charlton Athletic in the summer. Wenger said yesterday that Jenkinson has "top qualities", though admitted he still has work to do.
"His fitness is outstanding," said Wenger of Jenkinson, "he's quick, he has good crosses, he is good going forward. He needs to adjust a little bit his defensive game. But we are working with him and he is improving." Andre Santos, Laurent Koscielny and Johan Djourou may also be used at right-back.
Djourou, Koscielny and Tomas Rosicky are all available tomorrow, while Thomas Vermaelen should be back in two weeks.