By Chris Harris
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown he has the talent to play at the top level. Now he must prove he has the mentality to do it.
That's the verdict of Arsène Wenger, who has seen his summer signing exceed expectations in his first months at Emirates Stadium.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored on both of his first-team starts - against Shrewsbury and Olympiacos - and bagged a hat-trick for England Under-21s during the recent international break.
The 18-year-old is very much flavour of the month and has been linked with a call-up to Fabio Capello's squad for Euro 2012. Wenger believes he is ready to make the step up but wants his new recruit to be given time.
"We are more than six months before the tournament, we are now in October. Let's see where he stands in March and let's be open-minded," said the Frenchman.
"Let's not judge a guy who plays one or two games and say he has absolutely to go to the European Championship. Let's give him six or seven months. If in March, he has made a big step forward, why not?
"The mentality kicks in now [for Oxlade-Chamberlain]. That will decide his career. I am positive about it because he can deal with the pressure. How much will he demand of himself? That will make his career."
Oxlade-Chamberlain is older than Theo Walcott was when he was a shock inclusion in England's 2006 World Cup squad. Wenger believes the latter deserves credit for the way he handled the attention.
“Let’s say on the football front he was not completely ready [in 2006]," said the manager. "But I think psychologically he dealt with the whole situation really well. He never behaved like ‘look who I am’. He always remained humble.
"He didn’t go to the last World Cup when maybe he should have gone and overall he is at the normal development. He was born in 1989 so he is 22 years old and he already has a lot of experience. And he is at the level where people have not usually started an international career.
"But you [the media] are too much demanding. I think he progresses well. I think that he will make big steps in the next few months.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source