Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson lacks the self-belief needed to excel as Hector Bellerin's replacement in the Gunners side. That is the view of Arsenal legend Martin Keown, who has cast doubt on the English defender's ability to cover for the injured Bellerin.
Jenkinson, 24, has failed to cement a place in the Arsenal first team since joining the club in 2011. But he is poised to replace Bellerin in Arsene Wenger's side for their crunch clash against Manchester United, after the Spaniard was ruled out for the rest of the month with a damaged ankle ligament.
"This is the moment when the strength in depth in the squad kicks in," the ex-Arsenal defender told the Daily Mail. "This is what a manager does, he equips his squad in the knowledge there will be injuries. Every team gets injuries during the season − not just Arsenal in November!
"Over the next few weeks we will see how well-equipped their squad is to cope. Carl Jenkinson is someone who has come in already and I think he needs to be more confident. He's been away on loan, he's maturing and I'd like to see him play with more belief. He's a tremendous athlete. Hector Bellerin has gone in, embraced it and believes he belongs at that level. Jenkinson needs to find that belief."
Jenkinson spent two seasons on loan at West Ham United from 2014 until 2016 and Keown thinks the defender showed improved form during his spell with the Hammers. Keown believes the Arsenal manager will have been encouraged by the progress Jenkinson has made over the last couple of seasons.
"Arsene Wenger has always been very supportive of his young players," he said ahead of Arsenal's crunch game against United on 19 November. "Jenkinson went on loan at West Ham and was performing better there than he was for Arsenal. It will have encouraged Wenger that he can reproduce that form for Arsenal."