Jenkinson delighted to be living the dream

Young full-back thrown in at deep end for Arsenal is happy just to be playing for his boyhood idols

Carl Jenkinson has revealed he is still pinching himself that he is an Arsenal player and admitted he has a long way to go before becoming their first-choice right-back.

Lifelong Gunners fan Jenkinson could hardly have enjoyed a more meteoric rise in the past 12 months, having gone from making his senior debut in non-league football to playing at the Emirates Stadium, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, and in the Champions League.

The 19-year-old, who was starring on loan for Conference side Eastbourne this time last year, joined Arsenal from League One Charlton during the summer.

Jenkinson would have been expecting a limited role at his new club but found himself thrown in at the deep end as injuries ravaged Arsène Wenger's rearguard. It proved a real baptism of fire for the young defender, who was on the losing side in his first three Premier League appearances, including the humiliating 8-2 thrashing at Manchester United, where he was also sent off.

But as Arsenal have improved, so has Jenkinson, and Wenger has kept faith with his summer signing at right-back while Bacary Sagna recovers from a broken leg.

"Sometimes, I just have to take a step back and really appreciate where I am," Jenkinson said. "For me to come from where I was to playing in the Premier League is obviously a big achievement. But the main thing I have to pinch myself about is that I'm actually playing for Arsenal.

"I can't really portray how special that is for a fan of the club and for someone who comes from a family that loves Arsenal so much. It's just a great thing to be becoming a part of Arsenal's history. Long may it continue."

Jenkinson admitted top-flight football had been something of a culture shock. He said: "I'm settling in better now and I think people are slowly starting to see me as a player and what I can do. There have been ups and downs, as you all know.

"That's part of life. From the downs, you can always learn a lot. Overall, I've really enjoyed it and hopefully there'll be some more good times to come."

Wenger had looked inclined to play one of his centre-backs out of position on the right during Sagna's absence but ultimately decided to put his faith in youth once more.

"It's a very flattering thing for him to do that and believe in me," Jenkinson added. "I've got the ability and I have it in me to be playing now – it's just up to me to play well, take my chances and make sure I keep that place.

"Obviously, over the years he's put faith in youngsters but when it's you, you're that bit more grateful. There's a lot more improvement [to come] and I know I have a lot more in me. I know I have to improve if I want to be a regular at this football club."

Wenger has seen many of the players he has developed move on and there have been reports that star midfielder Jack Wilshere is on a Real Madrid wishlist leaked to the Spanish press.

There will doubtless come a time when Wilshere will have to decide where he sees himself in the long term.

Jenkinson is in the midst of a dilemma over his own future, having yet to decide whether to pledge his allegiance to England or to his mother's native Finland, having represented both at youth level.

He said: "I honestly could not tell you what my decision will be because it's something I'm going to have to think about in depth."

Meanwhile, Bordeaux president Jean-Louis Triaud has claimed he has been snubbed in his attempts to bring Moroccan international striker Marouane Chamakh back to the club.

"In the last two months, I have been leaving messages with Marouane," Triaud said. "I also left messages with Arsène Wenger but I got no answer. His silence shows probably that he still hopes he will make it at Arsenal."

Wenger maintains he takes no personal sense of gratification from Arsenal's recent resurgence – and insists there is "room for improvement".

After a disastrous start to the new season, when they lost four of their opening seven Premier League matches, the Gunners have now chalked up four straight wins. They are also in command of their Champions League group and have reached the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup, where they will host Manchester City.

"At the moment I feel we are more focused – saying 'look I am right' is less important for me than trying to continue the quality of our team and our results," the manager said.

News
peopleChildren leave in tears as Santa is caught smoking and drinking
Arts and Entertainment
A host of big name acts recorded 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' in London on Saturday
musicCharity single tops chart
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall has become the eighth celebrity to leave Strictly Come Dancing
tv
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin