Arsenal star draws on past experiences to nurture Alex Iwobi

Alex Iwobi

Jack Wilshere says that he wants to support the youngster in the way that more senior players looked after him in his early years.

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has told the Arsenal Weekly Podcast that he wants to be there to support young striker Alex Iwobi in the way that he himself was helped in the early stages of his career.

The 19-year-old Nigerian academy product has enjoyed a first breakthrough into Arsene Wenger's senior squad this season since he was baptised by fire by being handed his debut in the 3-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup in October.

Since then, he has made four appearances as a substitute in the Premier League and started three FA Cup ties, and has shown signs of great potential in his fledgling senior career.

Wilshere, who became the Gunners' youngest ever league debutant at the age of 16 in 2008, knows all about the pressure of stepping up to first-team football and extended his support to Iwobi.

The England midfielder, who is currently sidelined through injury, told the podcast: "Coming into a dressing room with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez can be scary for a young player.

"I don’t like to call it mentoring. Alex is 19, he’s not a kid. But I know what it’s like for him. I feel a responsibility to put him in the right direction, to answer his questions.

"I think back to when I first came in, players like Cesc [Fabregas] and Samir Nasri were great with me. They put their arms round me and taught me how to act, offering me support when I didn’t play. If I can be like they were for Alex then I’ll do it."

Since making his debut for the Gunners, Wilshere has played ore than 150 games for his boyhood club in all competitions despite being dogged by persistent injury problems.

Those issues mean that he has only managed to play more than 25 Premier League matches in a season on one occasion, in 2010-11, and he is yet to play a single minute of the current campaign.

Arsenal, who are currently third in the Premier League, just two points off the summit, host Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash at the Emirates on Tuesday night.

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