Krystian Bielik says he has the quality to play at a higher level than League One but he must prove himself with Charlton before thinking further ahead.
The Polish centre-back, 20, was tipped for the Arsenal first team when he was signed from Legia Warsaw by Arsene Wenger in January 2015. He went on to make his senior debut in the League Cup later that year but has since had his progress hampered by fitness problems.
An eye-catching loan spell with Birmingham City two seasons ago saw the youngster regain some confidence only for a shoulder problem to scupper a quick return to the Championship. He eventually settled for a spell at League One Walsall in January before returning to the same level with the Addicks this summer.
“I’m still learning,” Bielik told the News Shopper. “I’m getting experience on the pitch in first-team football because I don’t have many games in my bag.
“I played in the Championship two seasons ago in Birmingham and that was a great experience for me, I felt the Championship is a league I can play in.
“Now I’m at Charlton, in League One, and I think I’m doing well and I’m looking forward to playing in a higher league.
“I’ve got this quality to play higher but I don’t really want to speak about the future right now, I’m focused on Charlton Athletic and our target is now to win games and go through to the next level – which is the Championship. We will do everything and what we can to do that.”
Bielik also touched on the mental struggle that comes with a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
“A young player just has so many things in his head when he’s not playing and his friends are playing. I was like, ‘how am I going to play?’, I forgot how to play football.
“But then I came back after the injuries, played my first and second games, and I just came back to a good level.”
So far, Bielik has started five games in defence for Lee Bowyer’s Charlton and they’ve only conceded twice in those games. As you’ll remember, the south London outfit have done us a number of favours over the years, rehabilitating the likes of Alex Song, Francis Coquelin and even Yaya Sanogo. Here’s hoping they can work the same magic with Krystian.