By Giuseppe Muro

Making the 20-yard walk between the Reserve and first-team dressing room at the training ground is the hardest thing a young Arsenal player can do, according to Neil Banfield. But Ignasi Miquel has started that journey - and looks destined to one day reach the big time.

Miquel began his pilgrimage with an assured first-team debut at Leyton Orient on Sunday and, while appreciating that the defender is still some way from being established, Banfield believes he has made the perfect start.

“It’s about 20 yards from the Reserve team changing room to the first team changing room,” he told “And what it entails to make that walk means it’s the hardest 20 yards you will ever have to make.

“Ignasi is now a little bit on that road and he knows that by no means is he a first-team member. He’s a real level-headed lad, he’s been given an opportunity which he has taken well. He will come back and work to ensure he makes that 20-yard walk.

“I think he did [show the Arsenal fans what he is all about] and he made a good first impression with the senior staff. He’s only 18 and he’s still got a lot to learn but he’s made a good impression which is all you can ask.

“It’s so hard to get there and then to actually keep your position is a real feat. It’s hard work but he’s had a taste of it now, being in and around the first team, and once you get that you want more of it. Hopefully he will work on his game to achieve his ambitions.”

Since joining the Club as a 16-year-old, the popular Spaniard has flourished in the youth ranks and was this season given the responsibility captaining the Reserves at the tender age of 17.

The role was seen as a natural progression for Miquel, who caught Banfield’s eye at the very start of his Arsenal journey.

“My first impressions of him were his great enthusiasm,” added the second-string manager. “When he was out on the pitch his enthusiasm shone through.

“He was genuine, he made his mistakes, tried to rectify them and worked hard at his game. That’s what we try to produce with all the lads here. It’s not just about football, it’s about the roundness of being a person.”

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23 Feb 2011