Carl Jenkinson says he's 'ready and capable' to challenge for a regular first-team place
Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson admits the season ahead could be pivotal for him as he looks to build on a promising start to his career.
The right-back said he is under no illusions that he faces stiff competition for places, both at club and international level, but is ready to rise to the challenge.
“That’s my aim. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be playing regularly. I’m working hard in training and in games to try and prove that I’m capable and ready to do that.
“I know I’ve got world class players competing for positions as well and I respect that, but of course, I want to be playing regularly and it’s something that I’m striving towards.”
The 21-year-old, who has represented England and Finland at youth level, pledged his allegiance to the Three Lions when he made his senior debut as a second-half substitute in November 2012 in the friendly against Sweden.
One of Jenkinson’s primary strengths is his versatility, and he is hopeful that this will stand him in good stead for the campaign ahead.
“Since I’ve been young I’ve always played in different positions across the back four. All through my youth career I played at centre-back, and obviously I’ve played at left-back for Arsenal as well, so it’s something that I’m capable of doing.
“I’d probably say of course that my main position is right-back, but I would probably say that is a strength of mine that I am capable of playing in other positions as well.”
Arsenal go into the second leg of the Champions League play-off match with a three-goal advantage to protect, and Jenkinson is adamant that despite their healthy lead they have not achieved anything yet, as the Gunners look to secure a group-stage berth for the 16th consecutive year.
"It's vitally important and that's what makes tomorrow massive for us. It's vitally important we go out there and finish the job.
"We need to be playing at the pinnacle of football and that is the Champions League.
"If you want to improve and test yourself against the best players in the world, you have to be playing in the Champions League.”