At the end of last year, Ignasi Miquel captained the Academy to FA Youth Cup victory over Darlington on a wet and windy December evening.

A senior bow, his Emirates debut and just four months later, he looks set to play a part in Arsenal’s Premier League run-in.

In a season that saw Arsenal’s Carling Cup policy shift from blooding younger players, Miquel’s breakthrough is all the more impressive and the Spanish defender admits things have come to fruition sooner than he expected.

“Things have gone so quickly,” he told the Arsenal Magazine. “I didn’t expect to play with the first team this year.

“Coming back from Spain after Christmas, I didn’t anticipate anything like this. For a week-and-a-half I was training with the Under-18s and then, suddenly, I was training with the first team.

“There is an added pressure of joining the first team, of course, but it’s part of our job and you have to get used to it. Once you develop your game, pressure comes naturally. You have to deal with it. You know the pressure is there and you have to get through it.”

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29 Mar 2011