To don the red and white of Arsenal is a dream for most players. But to pull on the shirt as a lifelong fan is another thing entirely.

For Carl Jenkinson, that is exactly what happened after Arsène Wenger came calling last summer. The young right back had only featured nine times for Charlton Athletic after making his breakthrough at The Valley, but the Arsenal scouts had seen enough.

From League One to Emirates Stadium via a loan stint at Eastbourne Borough the previous season, it has been quite a journey for the 20-year-old.

Carl was under no illusions as to the step up he faced upon his arrival - but little could prepare him for the baptism of fire that lay ahead. An injury to Bacary Sagna saw the youngster make his debut in August's Champions League qualifier against Udinese, before appearances against Liverpool, Udinese once more, Manchester United and Tottenham quickly followed.

Despite this challenging start to his Arsenal career, Carl soon established himself in Wenger's first team. But a back injury ruled him out of action for three months and stalled his progress - a situation that proved particularly frustrating as Sagna was nursing a fractured fibula at the same time.

But overall this campaign has ultimately been a positive learning experience for Carl, something he admits himself. Improvements have been made in his all-round game and that bodes well ahead of his second season at Emirates Stadium.

“I didn't start how I would have liked to, but an honest assessment would be that as I have progressed, got more minutes under my belt and trained with the boys I definitely feel like I have improved a lot. It was a very steep learning curve for me. I believed I was capable of playing at the highest level, and sometimes it is about getting seen by the right people at the right time. I have had some tough times but I feel like I have come out of it a bigger and better person, and a better player."

Competition Appearances Goals Assists
Premier League 5+4 - 1
Champions League 3+1 - -
FA Cup - - -
Carling Cup 1 - 1
Total 9+5 0 2

After a string of difficult matches, Carl found his feet when West Brom visited Emirates Stadium in November. The young right back's marauding display from the back was his best in an Arsenal shirt and spoke volumes for his rich potential.

Carl Jenkinson

Carl in Champions League action

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8 Jun 2012