Date: 1st April 2009 at 10:33am
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Kieran Gibbs has been getting a lot of good press lately with a feature in the club magazine and regular updates on the club`s website. The latest features comments from the England U-20 manager, Noel Blake, who says of him:

“We played Kieran at left back in the past and he did really well. We have tended to use him more centrally, in central midfield, and he has done very well for us.

“We don`t have any qualms playing him at left back, left midfield or even off the front, he is a talented footballer and, when we look at the balance of the squad, we utilise where we think it is right.

“He is technically very, very good in possession of the ball, he has a fabulous engine and he`s a good team player. He has the ability to go past people and, overall, he is a very good footballer.”

Gibbs played the full 90 minutes as the U20`s played Italy last night in a game they won 2 – 0. He had also played the 2nd half for the England U21`s in their 5-0 win against Norway at the weekend.

It has been something of a breakthrough season for the left sided product of the academy. He has appeared regularly for the club at left back in both league cup and FA cup competitions making 7 starts in total plus 3 sub appearances in both premier league and champions league games.

His appearance as a 17 year old in the inaugural Emirates Cup competition against Inter Milan in 2007 earned plaudits for his performance as a left midfielder with Justin Hoyte playing left full back behind him. He had also played in central midfield in the reserves but since then he has been groomed as a left back in which position he also played in this season`s Emirates Cup against Juventus.

He seems a strong quick and intelligent player. The understandable positional difficulties inherent in any young player are something he seems to have got a grip on and has made notable improvement. In particular against premiership competition in the shape of Wigan and Hull in this season`s cup games.

Having signed a new contract at the beginning of the season the 19 year old already seems established as Clichy`s understudy though the fact that Gael is barely 4 years older may limit his opportunities over the next few seasons. For the time being though the demands of playing in 4 competitions should enable his present ambitions to be met satisfactorily.

Clichy himself has acknowledged that Gibbs is capable of providing competition having seen him at close quarters in training and is impressed by the teenager.

“It has been a positive – Kieran has played well,’ Clichy said in a matchday programme last month.

“When you train with the first team you always push on so it’s good for everyone.”

Of all the current academy products Gibbs looks closest to the first team. The progress he has made this year and recognition at U21 international level should help build his confidence and convince him that he has a good future at the club.

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