Charlie Gilmour admits that he was surprised to be included in Arsene Wenger’s squad to face BATE Borisov, but he’s ready to play for the first team.
Although Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Marcus McGuane and Eddie Nketiah were also picked for Arsenal’s Europa League trip to Belarus, Gilmour admits he was surprised to get the nod from Arsene Wenger.
“The manager Arsene Wenger only told me the day before that I was travelling,” Gilmour said. “I was very surprised but felt ready for it.
“I got plenty of advice from the first-team players.
“Per Mertesacker is a big help to me — he always talks to me and gives me advice and helps me.
“To get into the first team shows I have been doing well recently and means that the manager has faith in me. I am very grateful to him.
“You can see that the manager trusts young players because he has given some of the younger ones a few chances so that is encouraging.”
The 18-year-old isn’t the first youth player to hail Per Mertesacker and his ability to dish out helpful advice, which is handy since the centre-back is taking over as head of the Gunners’ academy at the end of the season.
Gilmour didn’t get the chance to play against BATE Borisov during Arsenal’s chaotic 4-2 win over the Belarusian Premier League side. However, the trip alone would have been a great experience for the teenage midfielder.
Meanwhile, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all got starts, with Nelson and Maitland-Niles both impressing.
Arsenal travel to the Rajko Mitic Stadium to face Red Star Belgrade in their third Europa League clash on 19 October and I imagine Wenger will take a similar squad along. However, the Serbian side are known for their ‘passionate’ home support and the boss may choose to field a more experienced team instead.