Arsenal U23 boss Freddie Ljungberg hails Emile Smith-Rowe and Eddie Nketiah
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Arsenal U23 boss Freddie Ljungberg has been speaking to the Islington Gazette about Emile-Smith Rowe, Eddie Nketiah, Per Mertesacker and much more. Read Layth Yousif’s interview with the Gunners legend.
The Swedish former Invincible has hailed starlet Smith-Rowe after impressing for the U21 side in the 3-0 win over Coventry City on Wednesday evening in the Checkatrade Trophy.
With head coach Unai Emery receiving detailed feedback from Ljungberg on the creative talent during their weekly debrief as well as what would have been a glowing reference from assistant head coach Steve Bould who was at the Ricoh to observe the team, the time is coming for Smith-Rowe to step up to the first team.
The youngster shone in pre-season in Singapore but will be eyeing a first team berth in the forthcoming Europa League and Carabao Cup campaigns.
Ljungberg praised his player saying: Unai has seen a lot, he knows. Emile has a great career in front of him. His presence and the way he behaves, for me he’s a role model for everyone at our club.
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“The respect he shows people and then on the pitch he plays so well. If any young players want to look at how I think a player should behave they should look at him. “With all the success he has got he is still as humble as he was before.
Emery has taken an interest in the U23s this season, attending the 1-1 draw with Brighton at the Emirates last month and is not afraid to blood talented youngsters.
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With matches coming thick and fast this month after the international break the former PSG boss is on the lookout to supplement his fist team with hungry youngsters. Ljungberg added: “It’s great for the younger players to feel the manager cares. They train with me and them, they go back and forwards a little bit, but if they get more time with the first-team that’s great, that’s what we want to do.
“At the same time we have a great first-team squad and we talk about Eddie but Aubameyang and Lacazette are quite decent players! He needs to just keep knocking on the door and hopefully it’ll happen.”
Another player who is hoping for a first team chance is hotshot striker Eddie Nketiah.
The England U20 international is no stranger to the team after scoring two goals on his debut against Norwich City at the Emirates in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup last term.
Nketiah added to his growing reputation by netting against the Sky Blues on Wednesday five minutes after coming on to double the lead after Smith-Rowe’s fourth minute goal before a late Joe Willock goal sealed a 3-0 victory for Ljungberg’s U21s.
Ljungberg said: “[Eddie] trains with [the first team] does well. We rested him [against Coventry] for a bit because he’d played with England but still he did well.
“Eddie came on in the last 20-30 minutes and did great. It’s nice to be able to give the responsibility to a much younger player and still he does a lot.”
When asked if he thought the young forward was in contention for the forthcoming Europa League match he replied: “That’s up to the first team manager. Eddie works hard and plays well. It’s only himself who will decide how far he goes. If he keeps the work ethic and scores goals, who knows.”
Follow Arsenal reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29