Carl Jenkinson was a massive Arsenal fan as a child and it was “a dream come true” when the Gunners bought him from Charlton back in 2011. Jenkinson and his teammates Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were hailed as the ‘British Core’ that would be the future for the Gunners as well as the England national team when they all signed new long-term contracts with Arsenal in December 2012. That was just a month after Jenkinson had made his first ever appearance for England with 15 minutes of a friendly against Sweden.
But Jenkinson did not quite live up to expectations and in fact made many more first team starts in his two years on loan at West Ham than he had in his whole Arsenal career. He came back to Arsenal last season after suffering a cruciate injury but when he had recovered by last January he was sold to Crystal Palace to get first team football, but Sam Allardyce’s side wouldn’t agree to his wage demands and he returned to stagnate in the Arsenal reserves.
Last summer though, now aged 25, Jenkinson took up an offer of a loan to Birmingham in the Championship and it was hoped he would get back his form and fitness. When he was announced as a Blue, Jenkinson said: “Everyone just agreed that I needed to play this year. I was told that I’d be able to go out on loan or whatever and I pushed for that as well because you don’t want to be somewhere where you’re not going to be playing.
“My focus now is Birmingham City and I’ll assess where I’m at at the end of the season. I’ve vowed to myself that I just want to be playing football for the rest of my career now.”
“My main ambition is to play for England again,” said Jenkinson. “I want to crack on and play at the highest level again, whether that’s at Arsenal, time will tell.
“I’m not focusing too much past this season. I’d like to play for England again and that’s a goal in the back of my mind and I fully believe I can do that but for the time being I’ve just got to focus on the short term and that’s getting in the team and playing here.
“I’d like to think I’ve still got seven or eight years to play at the top level.
“Twenty-five is a funny age because you don’t feel like a youngster anymore and you are nearer to 30.
“It’s an important year for me so I had to make sure I was going somewhere where I was going to have a good chance of playing every week. I’m not a kid anymore and I need to be playing every week.
“I just think when you’ve been out injured and my career, to a certain extent, was at a bit of a standstill last season because I wasn’t playing and you take the setback and you reset your goals and think: ‘What do I really want to achieve in this game?’
“That’s something I’ve set myself and I fully believe I can do it. I’d love to pull on an England shirt again and that’s one of the goals for the rest of my career.”
Maybe Carl is just extremely unlucky though, as he dislocated his shoulder in his very first game, and it took him until December to get fit again. He played another five games as injury cover but he is now sitting on the bench and is unlikely to play again in this campaign. His dismal record at Birmingham reads 7 games, 7 defeats and will be sent back to Arsenal for the last year of his contract next season. No one in any League will match the wages he is on at Arsenal, so it looks like another loan next year. But who would take him? Could he really still be dreaming about playing for England again?