By Rob Stewart
Anxious Arsenal supporters have been assured that rookie defender Carl Jenkinson will have the ability and temperament to cope with the big-game atmosphere when the Gunners face Liverpool on Saturday.
The clubs’ Premier League clash at the Emirates will mark the teenager’s top-flight debut but Phil Parkinson, who helped nurture Jenkinson’s talents while managing Charlton Athletic, is certain that he will flourish under the spotlight.
“I am certain that Carl will be relishing his Premier League debut and I can say with a degree of confidence that he will not let anyone down,” Parkinson told Goal.com.
“As a footballer, Carl has all the tools that you need to do well at the highest level but he also has the sort of personality that means he will not be daunted by the challenge in front of him.”
Parkinson helped the 19-year-old Jenkinson come through the ranks at Charlton before his £1 million (€1.1) move to Arsenal this summer and he has seen enough to know that his former charge will handle the big occasion.
“There are some players that are great on the training ground but struggle when it comes to competitive action but Carl is definitely not in that category,” Parkinson added.
“We sent him out to non-league Eastbourne Borough on loan and we had him watched on his debut and he did really well. It was the same when he made his Charlton debut. He took to it very quickly.
“Carl has a great temperament. He takes everything in his stride because he is such a level-headed lad. Nothing seems to faze him and I am sure that same will apply against Liverpool.
“Carl will be keen to show Arsenal fans that he is a fantastic prospect for the future but he will also try to produce a performance that will show Arsene Wenger that he deserves to keep his first-team place.”
Though nominally a right-back, Jenkinson made his Arsenal debut in the Champions League qualifier against Udinese when he replaced centre-back Johan Djourou, but is expected to fill in at left-back against Liverpool due to an injury to Kieran Gibbs.
“No one should have any fears about his ability to adapt,” Parkinson continued. “He is a very versatile player who can play anywhere across the back four. He is a good athlete, he reads the game well and he has two good feet.
“There are still a lot of ways for him to improve but he’s only young and I am sure that he will learn quickly at Arsenal. He is calm and composed and I am sure he will make the most of his opportunity. He's got a very bright future."