By Nick Teale
Kyle Bartley has had an interesting winter at Arsenal. He made his first team debut in one of Europe's most hostile stadia last month and on Tuesday night he lined up alongside Sol Campbell for the Reserves.
The second-string captain is a big admirer of the 35-year-old and has been enjoying the experience of training with the former England international over recent months.
Campbell played at Upton Park on Tuesday night after securing a Reserve League registration while talks continue over the prospect of a permanent move back to Arsenal.
The defender made 197 appearances over five seasons with Arsenal rom 2001 to 2006 and naturally Bartley would love to emulate the success of the man he's been learning from.
"Sol is an Gunners legend," Bartley told "He's played for England and Arsenal and he's scored in a Champions League Final. If I can get anywhere near what he has achieved I would be very happy.
"He's been training with us for the last few months and it's great to have him here and try to learn from him.
"We spoke [before the game] and we said we have to communicate and try and help each other out. We were both lacking a little bit of fitness but it was fine."
And playing alongside Campbell wasn't the only valuable experience Bartley has had in recent weeks. The 18-year-old made his first-team debut in the Champions League last month, at one of Europe's most intimidating grounds.
With qualification to the Knockout Stages already sealed, the Reserve team captain was handed a starting berth for December's trip to Olympiacos.
The Greek champions couldn't afford to lose the game and their hostile fans were as vocal as ever in an effort to help their side progress from the Group Stages.
"It was amazing," recalled Bartley. "It was such a good experience in a hostile atmosphere and I was glad to get my debut and hopefully there will be more to come.
"It was quite nerve-wracking to start with. It was a different environment to play in because I'm not used to it."
Mikael Silvestre, who captained the side in Athens, joined Bartley at centre-half. The French defender is the most experienced player in the Arsenal squad and was more than happy to share his knowledge ahead of the game against Olympiacos.
"I spoke to him just before the match," explained Bartley. "He said he wasn't nervous but really excited [when he made] his debut and told me to try and enjoy it and go out and do my best.
"Mikael is fantastic. He's got so much experience and he's played in all those atmospheres before. He is really friendly and helps you out a lot on and off the pitch."

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14 Jan 2010