By Rob Kelly
Arsène Wenger believes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can handle the biggest occasions - but he will continue to closely monitor the teenager’s workload.
The 18-year-old has made a big impact for Arsenal since signing from Southampton last summer and has particularly impressed in some of the team’s most high-profile games.
Many observers have heaped praise on Oxlade-Chamberlain’s physical attributes and Wenger also admires his mental strength.
“He is a little bit like a boxer in his upper body. He has not played too many games up until now because he was on a learning curve but he has a super quality and is not fazed by the [biggest] occasions,” Wenger told Diamond Club members during a recent Q&A.
“To put him in the team against any opposition... it is just natural for him to be there. For a young player, sometimes they waste a lot of time getting used to the pressure. He looks like he can take it.
“There are very few players like that, players who look like they have always played in the team.”
Wenger has been delighted with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s adaptation to the Premier League, but he knows it is important not to overburden him.
“Physically we have to monitor him because after every game he can have a little problem,” the manager said.
“We know now that a large percentage of players who play a lot of games between the ages of 18 and 21 have bony stress responses. I never expected the number to be so high.
“[It happens] because your skeleton is not completely finished and the bones are not completely developed to absorb the kinds of shocks you get in the Premier League.
“We have to be cautious about that. But you are always in a trap when the player is as good as he is, like Jack Wilshere is too.
“You cannot take him out of the team, you have to keep him there. They can win you games. Until the end of the season there is no problem and if he continues to play like this I am convinced he will go to Euro 2012.”