Arsene Wenger insists that Carl Jenkinson can compete for a place in Arsenal’s starting XI against Hector Bellerin, who he describes as one of the best right-backs in Europe.

Jenks only returned from a nine-month stint on the sidelines recently. A cruciate knee ligament injury that he sustained while playing against Manchester City for his loan club, West Ham, last season left him needing surgery.

Despite needing some more time to get back to proper match fitness, as well as to develop his confidence, Jenks has been thrust into the first team after first choice right-back, Hector Bellerin, picked up an ankle injury thanks to a tackle from Spurs’ Danny Rose in the north London derby.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30: Sofiane Boufal of Southampton runs at Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal during the EFL Cup quarter final match between Arsenal and Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on November 30, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 30: Sofiane Boufal of Southampton runs at Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal during the EFL Cup quarter final match between Arsenal and Southampton at the Emirates Stadium on November 30, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Although Jenks hasn’t been terrible, he’s no Bellerin.

However, Wenger believes that with time and confidence, the 24-year-old can compete.

“Bellerin is one of the best in his position certainly in Europe, but Carl can compete with him,” Wenger said.

“At the moment, no, because mentally he has not found back his total level nor his confidence.”

As much as I love Jenks, I’m not nearly as confident as the boss.

Saying this, he has been thrown in at the deep end when he needs more time.

He’s never going to be first choice but it would be brilliant if he could work up to being a solid second option.

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