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Arsenal boss delighted at rise of England’s young Guns

Kieran Gibbs in action for England. Photo credit: Chris Ison/PA wire Kieran Gibbs in action for England. Photo credit: Chris Ison/PA wire

Friday, October 5, 2012
3:16 PM

Arsene Wenger believes there is an English revolution happening at Arsenal and one that represents something of a sea change in the north London side.

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You need only check the Three Lions squad for the 2010 World Cup to see that there wasn’t a single representative from the Gunners.

Theo Walcott, who at 17 years of age had been a surprise inclusion in the travelling party for the 2006 edition under Sven Goran Eriksson, was omitted by successor Fabio Capello for the South Africa tournament four years later.

Indeed, on the domestic front there have been, in Wenger’s 16-year reign, many debates over Arsenal sides conspicuous by the absence of any homegrown stars at all.

But last Saturday, though the final whistle signalled his side’s first defeat of the 2012/13 Premier League campaign – at home to Chelsea – it contained four English players.

Three of those – Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs - were yesterday named in Roy Hodgson’s 25-man squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino and then Poland.

And it was almost four representatives as the England coach admitted Carl Jenkinson missed out on selection by the narrowest of margins before touting the right back for the November friendly in Sweden.

And what price there being a phone call made to another Gunner ahead of that fixture as Jack Wilshere continues his return from over a year out through injury?

Should the digits of the 20-year-old be dialled along with those of his other team-mates’, the north London club could well boast five players in the national side.

And that’s a mouth-watering possibility for Wenger who admits he’s often had to field questions about the lack of Englishmen in his teams.

The manager also laid out his vision for Arsenal’s future, saying: “The ideal mixture is to have a basic young squad where 60 per cent comes from this country and 40 per cent from abroad. We get there slowly and we have good young talent from England.”

For Wenger, Gibbs’ selection - two years after he earned his only brace of England caps to date, in friendly contests - is fully justified.

“I’m pleased because it’s a reward for the consistency of his performances since the start of the season,” The Frenchman said.

“It’s always good to know when you’re a football player that you can represent your country and the national coach rates you.

“There’s a big competition going on there because you have [Ashley] Cole of course, [Leighton] Baines and Gibbs.

“It’s quite good for England to have so many good players in that position.”

For Arsenal fans, who grew accustomed, in the not too distant past, to cheering on their own during World Cups and European Championships it seems that once again the English are coming.

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