Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is ready to shoulder the responsibility of holding down a first team place if Arsene Wenger calls on his services in the coming weeks and months.
The England under-21 international has only played sporadically in the first XI since moving from Southampton in the summer but has certainly whet the appetite of fans with goalscoring performances against Olympiakos and Shrewsbury Town and a dynamic showing against Manchester City in the Carling Cup.
Accepting that competition for places at Arsenal is strong, the summer signing still feels he can make a difference this season.
“I can’t say [when I will play], I don’t know, that’s for the boss to say really,” he told Arsenal Player. “I’m just available if ever needed.
“There are a lot of games and maybe it is a time where players are going to be rested. It’s a lot of work for the body physically so if I am required then I’m ready. I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity and I will try and take my chance.
“Everyone that comes into the team knows what’s expected of them. At the end of the day we all train together at the same tempo and the same intensity so I think whoever steps into the team knows what’s expected of them from the fans, from the boss and from each other.
“You’re playing for Arsenal, you have to be on top of your game at all times if possible.”
While Arsene Wenger has been eager to stress his young charge’s quality, even tipping him for inclusion in England’s Euro 2012 squad, there is a sense that the boss has learned from the hubbub which surrounded Theo Walcott accession to the first team. That being said, with Andrey Arshavin obviously struggling and Yossi Benayoun and Tomas Rosicky lacking the pace to do damage on the wings Oxlade-Chamberlain could get a run in the side in January when Gervinho heads to the African Cup of Nations.
One area the Gunners certainly could do with cover right now is in the full-back positions. Injuries to Kieran Gibbs, Andre Santos, Carl Jenkinson, Bacary Sagna and Johan Djourou mean that youngster Ignasi Miquel will likely start against Aston Villa tomorrow night, while Laurent Koscielny could be shifted out to the right again.
Although the defence is being stretched to the max, Oxlade-Chamberlain feels his teammates are equipped to deal with whatever is thrown at them.
I think it’s a handicap for any team when you’ve got four full backs out – two left backs and two right backs. It’s not ideal for any team but there are a lot of boys that can fill in,” he continued.
“You’ve seen Thomas Vermaelen and Ignasi Miquel both do really well. With Carl and Bac out on the right, Johan’s filled in really well and obviously he’s picked up a little niggle now.
“But the boys have the quality to do that, everybody understands everybody else’s roles. If they don’t play week in, week out they still understand – everybody at Arsenal is a quality player.
“I’m sure the boss will find somebody good enough to do the job.”