Three years ago, Carl Jenkinson was playing non-league football for Welling United. Now he has been capped by England in the recent friendly against Sweden and until recently, with the return of Sagna from injury, held the Arsenal right-back spot as his own. A full-back that is good defensively, but also good in the attack, Jenkinson has the potential to remain in the England set-up for years to come.
Born in England to an English father and a Finnish mother, Jenkinson began his career at Charlton, but did not make any first team appearances until after he had completed loan moves to Conference South side Welling United and also to Eastbourne Borough. After making his debut against Brentford in 2010, he went on to make 8 league appearances for Charlton that season before he was snapped up by Arsenal for around £1 million in June 2011. He made his debut against Udinese in the Champions League Qualification round and went on to make several more appearances that campaign due to another injury to Bacary Sagna. He had an awful game against Manchester United, but this was clearly just part of his learning curve and he has pushed on and taken his performances to the next level since then.
This season, he started the first five games of the campaign and drew many plaudits for his performances even at such a young age, particularly against Manchester City. The continuing decline of Sagna, once such a strongpoint in the backline, has caused many Arsenal fans to call for a recall of Jenkinson to the first team, and in my opinion this would be rightly so. In all of Sagna’s appearances so far this campaign, none have been as good as Jenkinson’s were at the start of the season.
A quietly spoken man, his work-ethic has been raved about by the staff at Arsenal, and it is this perhaps that has brought the incredible dividends that these last two years have brought him. If he continues to adapt quite as quickly as he has to the Premier League, it could only be two years before we could be seeing a top quality player. The future of the Arsenal right-back slot looks safe.