Title-winning kids can step into first team squad, says Wenger

Arsene Wenger has backed some of Arsenal s youth team stars to step up to the first team squad. Steve Bould s under 18s wrapped up the FA Academy title, winning 1-0 at bitter rivals Tottenham in a dramatic play off last weekend, and take on Liverpool in t

Arsene Wenger has backed some of Arsenal's youth team stars to step up to the first team squad.

Steve Bould's under 18s wrapped up the FA Academy title, winning 1-0 at bitter rivals Tottenham in a dramatic play off last weekend, and take on Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup final first leg at Emirates tomorrow.

The second leg is at Anfield next Tuesday - 20 years to the day Arsenal won the league title at the same venue.

The Gunners boss has watched the Young Guns' development with interest - and says he likes what he sees.


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"Jack Wilshere is already with us in the first team but there are plenty of players in there who could very quickly be in our first-team squad," said Wenger, who believes some could make an impact with the seniors ''very quickly''.

"I have seen this team a few times and I like not only their quality but their attitude as well.

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"There is something in there that shows they have personality and not only talent.

"I believe they will win (against Liverpool)."

Arsenal will open the lower tier for the match at Emirates, with tickets available from the ticket office up until 5pm on Friday.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has dismissed reports Wenger could leave the club for long-term suitors Real Madrid.

Wenger says he has been ''hurt'' by fans' criticism after his side failed to end their four-year trophy drought - but he has the backing of his players.

"We are not affected by transfer speculation and sometimes it is a good thing for us because we make jokes about it when it comes out in the press," Almunia told a Spanish sports paper.

"We say 'did you see that you have signed with Barcelona, once again?' We have a laugh because it is almost always untrue. Many things are said to sell newspapers, but as far as we are concerned we remain pretty much relaxed."

"We call him the boss. He is the visible face of this club, of Arsenal's project and he is very important for the club."

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