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Gibbs ready for England - Wenger

Kieran Gibbs
Gibbs is vying with Gael Clichy for Arsenal's left-back spot

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger believes Kieran Gibbs can force his way into England's 2010 World Cup squad.

England coach Fabio Capello watched left-back Gibbs, 20, turn in a fine display during the Gunners' 2-1 Carling Cup win over Liverpool on Wednesday.

"Gibbs will get games and has already this season," said Wenger of the England Under-21 star, who has made 27 first-team appearances for Arsenal.

"If Capello asks my opinion, I'll give a positive one. He's ready to step up."

Gibbs played two Carling Cup matches for Arsenal as an 18-year-old in 2007 before spending time on loan in the Championship with Norwich.

The Lambeth-born defender, who began his career with the Wimbledon academy, made his Premier League debut against Tottenham in February 2009 and proved an able deputy to the injured Gael Clichy for much of last season.

He impressed at last summer's European Under-21 Championship in Sweden, where England were beaten by Germany in the final, and has been tipped for a full international call-up.

England's only scheduled friendlies between now and the 2010 World Cup finals are against Brazil in Qatar on 14 November and an as yet unnamed opponent in March.

Fran is a quality player - he came to us at a very young age but our school is in line with the way he was educated... he suits perfectly the way we want to play football

Arsene Wenger on Fran Merida

Gibbs was one of the stand-out performers in a youthful Arsenal team that beat Liverpool and Wenger felt his side's performance once again justified the club's decision not to spend heavily on new signings.

The Frenchman included some experience in his side in the shape of Mikael Silvestre, Philipe Senderos and Samir Nasri but it was the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Fran Merida and debutant Craig Eastmond who stole the show.

"It is always difficult to convince people we do not need players but when you see them tonight, you understand why," stated Wenger.

"We see them every day in training and have so much quality with our young players that we are not specially out on the market.

"Fran is 19, Ramsey and Eastmond still only 18. To play in a game at that level, they deserve a lot of credit."

Ramsey, a £5m signing from Cardiff in June 2008, was the architect behind much of Arsenal's attacking play, while Merida, signed from the Barcelona academy as a 15-year-old in 2005, put the hosts ahead with a stunning strike.

Alongside Ramsey in central midfield was the Wandsworth-born Eastmond, who joined Arsenal from Millwall as an 11-year-old in 2002 and was a key member of last season's Premier Academy League and FA Youth Cup-winning sides.

Emiliano Insua cancelled out Merida's opener before 21-year-old Nicklas Bendtner, now a first-team regular, drove home the winner.

"The experienced players played well, so did the young players, some of whom were making their debut," added Wenger.


"Liverpool came back to 1-1 and we still managed to win, that shows we have also mental resources."

Wenger believes Merida, just back from the Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, has a bright future ahead of him with the Gunners.

"Fran is a quality player," stated Wenger, who made a last-minute decision to keep Merida at the Emirates Stadium last summer - despite the midfielder having already packed his bags for a season-long loan deal at Levante.

Wenger continued: "He comes from a very good school. I kept him because I felt he had the quality to break through but when you look at all the players who did not play, of course the competition for players is very difficult.

"Fran came to us at a very young age but our school is in line with the way he was educated. He suits perfectly the way we want to play football."

Merida's contract expires at the end of the season but the Spaniard has set his sights on a new deal after opening negotiations with Arsenal.

"At the moment I am talking to the club so I don't know what is going to happen," he told Arsenal's official website.

"I am really happy here so hopefully everything is going to be OK. We are going to sit down and talk about (a new contract)."

Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski made his first-team return against Liverpool after recovering from knee surgery.

With Vito Mannone and the fit-again Manuel Almunia both available, Wenger has something of a selection poser ahead of Saturday's north London derby with Tottenham.

"Fabianski has done very well," added the Frenchman. "Almunia is back to his normal level and I would have no worries about playing him but at the moment I do not know what I will do on Saturday."

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see also
Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
28 Oct 09 |  League Cup
Wenger at 60
22 Oct 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger excited by Arsenal future
05 Oct 09 |  Premier League
Gibbs extends contract at Arsenal
03 Jul 09 |  Arsenal
Arsenal's young guns - Kieran Gibbs
01 Dec 08 |  Arsenal

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