As an outsider looking in, being a backup player for any team looks like a lonely job.
Minutes are hard to come by, weeks and months could be spent just sitting on the substitute bench, and it seems no matter how hard they try the only way to start games is either in cup competitions or an injury to other players.
For Carl Jenkinson, though, being a backup has been the story for most of his career, but being second fiddle to Hector Bellerin is something the fans aren’t fazed about one bit.
Dubbed “the professional Arsenal fan” by the supporters, Jenkinson has won a special place in the hearts of fans for being the player that gives it 100% no matter how long he hasn’t played for and for being a well-documented follower of the club.
Since joining the club from Charlton as a 19-year-old in the summer of 2011, Jenkinson has only managed 69 appearances for the club in the eight years the right-back has spent at Arsenal, and although many thought his time would be over when Unai Emery came to the club the 27-year-old defender has been of some use for the Spaniard this season.
Jenkinson has started three Europa League games this season, all of them in the group stage, and in February the England-born defender started his first Premier League game in nearly two years for the Gunners, and his first start in the league at the Emirates Stadium since 2013.
Although Ainsley Maitland-Niles has established himself as the replacement for Hector Bellerin as the Spaniard recovers from an ACL injury, Jenkinson is surely likely to remain at the club next season as a backup yet again.
But not just backup in the right-back, but as reinforcement in every position of the defence. Emery has done some tinkering to Jenkinson’s game this season, transforming him from a right-sided defender and nothing more to a player who can play across the back four.
Jenkinson has played and impressed in every area of defence this season, and with the fullback entering the prime years of his career it won’t be a surprise to see more of the English defender next season as Arsenal’s surprise backup defender.
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