Oxlade-Chamberlain can lift England, says Ramsey

Wales captain tips Arsenal team-mate to make an impact this summer
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The Independent Football

Aaron Ramsey reckons his Arsenal team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can be a secret weapon for England and light up the European Championship.

The uncapped midfielder was a wildcard pick by manager Roy Hodgson for the finals in Poland and Ukraine next month despite having made only 26 appearances for Arsène Wenger.

But Ramsey, the Wales captain who is in New York preparing for his nation's friendly against Mexico this evening, believes the 18-year-old winger has the right mentality to perform at Euro 2012.

"Alex has had a good season," Ramsey said. "He has played a few games for us and every time he played he put in a good performance. He's young, he's exciting and is quite mature as well. He definitely has a big future ahead of him. Everyone was delighted for him when he got the England call-up.

"He's definitely mature enough to handle the international stage," Ramsey added. "It was always going to happen at some point. I'm sure he will pick it up pretty quickly. If he gets the opportunity he will try his best to take it."

Ramsey knows all too well about handling the pressure of playing for his country at a tender age after he was made Wales's youngest captain at 20 – beating Mike England's record set in 1964 – by the late Gary Speed.

Tonight's encounter at the MetLife Stadium marks Chris Coleman's first proper match in charge following the memorial game for Speed against Costa Rica in February.

Ramsey admits Wales must get back to winning ways quickly for when qualification for the 2014 World Cup begins this autumn. "We played the last international in difficult circumstances," he said. "I don't think the players were able to play how they usually would. This is a different game and we hope to get the ball rolling again and put ourselves back in the right direction ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.

"We have to get back on track, but I'm really excited about the way we have developed as a team. We want to carry that forward and be in good shape for the qualifiers. Hopefully I can be the captain of a very special team."

Meanwhile, Ramsey has told Arsenal that they must hang on to Robin van Persie at all costs. The current PFA Player of the Year is one of the most wanted men in European football this summer.

Manchester City and their rivals United have been linked with the Dutch striker – along with Juventus – after his 30 goals in the Premier League last season. The 28-year-old has only one year remaining on his contract.

"It's important we keep Robin if we want to be title contenders," said Ramsey. "He has proven this season what his value to the team is with the amount of goals he has scored. He was our top goal-scorer, he won the Golden Boot and the Player of the Year awards so any team would want to keep him. He hasn't given any of the lads any indications on what he is going to do. But hopefully he will stay for us."