Per Mertesacker has urged Arsenal’s youngsters to “be brave and embrace the challenge” ahead of Tuesday’s Capital One Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday.
The Gunners face Carlos Carvalhal’s side at Hillsborough in the fourth round of the competition, with Arsene Wenger set to rotate his squad for their fourth game in 10 days.
Mertesacker could return after missing Saturday’s win against Everton through illness, and the World Cup winner recalled what it was like to move up to first-team football at Hannover.
“It was a big step,” he told the Arsenal Weekly podcast. ”For every player it’s a big step but I took it really seriously and really in my stride. I had full commitment and if you do that, and try to give your best on the pitch, then you have a good chance and opportunity of making this step.
“I tried to be respectful to all my team-mates and obviously be brave to try to embrace the challenge which came along. You have to take your chance and I did, which is why I’m here. I made this step very late though.
“The mentality played a big part for me to show that I’m capable of doing things and staying calm to play under pressure no matter what happens. In a new environment there is always big pressure for a young professional or a young scholar to come through and have a bigger stage.
“There’s a new manager who wants to see things from you, so you will be watched and that’s something that I felt quite comfortable with. I didn’t have to change my game a lot, so it was really easy.
“I could stick to my qualities, to my abilities, but as well to be brave to challenge the old lads in the team, those who are in my position, and obviously I needed some luck. That is very important along with a manager who counts on you and who trusts you. I was lucky enough to get the possibility to show myself and it turned out quite well.”
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