Arsenal's Gibbs gunning for Clichy, Spurs and Ashley Cole
BOYS are supposed to become men on their 21st birthday, but that traditional rite of passage is clearly lost on Kieran Gibbs. The young Gunner will celebrate that milestone in 10 days time on September 26, but his family will be hard-pressed to find gift
BOYS are supposed to become men on their 21st birthday, but that traditional rite of passage is clearly lost on Kieran Gibbs.
The young Gunner will celebrate that milestone in 10 days' time on September 26, but his family will be hard-pressed to find gifts to match the month that the defender has had in the past month.
Called up for the senior England squad for the first time in early August, Gibbs made his debut in the friendly against Hungary at Wembley a few days later.
He then retained his place in Fabio Capello's squad for the Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland, seemingly cementing his spot as deputy to Ashley Cole.
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All that was missing was first-team involvement at the Emirates, but then Arsene Wenger handed him his first Premier League start of the season against Bolton on Saturday to complete a hectic four weeks.
"I know it's a clich� but it really was a dream come true [to make my England debut]" said Gibbs, who trod the Wembley turf for the entire second half when he replaced Cole, another left-back who came through the Arsenal youth system.
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"It was good to see what it is like at the highest level, and now I want to try and stay there."
A fresh face in the youthful Arsenal dressing room, let alone among the vaunted names of England's senior side, Gibbs admitted he had settled in well having made the step up.
"I was really happy, the boys were really good to me, made me comfortable straight away especially Phil Jagielka [of Everton] who was really helpful.
"I enjoyed it and hopefully I can stay in there now."
The one criticism hanging over Gibbs is that he is not a regular for his club side, unlike his rivals for the England squad such as Everton's Leighton Baines and Stephen Warnock of Blackburn who went to the World Cup in the summer.
"Gibbs will get games this season, don't worry about that," said Wenger on the eve of the campaign, having suggested last season that the south Londoner would have played many more than his seven appearances had a broken metatarsal not curtailed his season in November.
The chance came sooner than expected on Saturday as Gibbs came in for Gael Clichy, but Wenger emphasised that it was merely rotation and that the Frenchman had not been dropped.
"It [Gibbs' inclusion] was not in preference because Clichy has played very well, but we go into two months where we play every three days so I rotate sometimes one or two players," explained Wenger. "I want Gibbs to get back to full fitness. It was his first full game."
It looks like it won't be his last, and the Englishman is relishing the battle for a first team place after the summer departures of Armand Traore and Mikael Silvestre cleared the path for him to compete directly with Clichy.
"It's good to get a chance. I've got to push him all the way, it's going to be good for him to play well and good for the club as well, and obviously we want to help the club win something this year.
"It's difficult to play the same team for the whole season, players get tired and that is when you get injuries and so it's good to rotate a bit.
"I'm happy to play anywhere the boss knows that," added Gibbs, who was first seen by Arsenal fans as a rampaging left-winger or striker for the Under-18 team in 2006.
Wenger has used him on the left side of midfield before in the first team, and there is a feeling he will do so again soon, probably in next week's Carling Cup tie at Tottenham.
That promises to be a tough examination for a young Arsenal side, and Gibbs is likely to be one of the more experienced players for the Gunners, having made his debut for the club at the same stage of the competition three years ago in a 3-0 win at Sheffield United.
It is a measure of Gibbs' progress that he is now looked upon as a first team player who may turn out in the Carling Cup rather than the other way round. And he is confident that the Gunners' solid start to the season can continue after negotiating the tricky early-season period.
"Liverpool away first game was not easy, Blackburn away was not easy and in all four league games we have showed a lot of character and quality," added Gibbs
"The new boys have come in and done really well at centre-back and hopefully we can build on this for the rest of the season.