Date: 4th December 2016 at 9:03pm
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Speaking ahead of Saturday’s five one victory over West Ham United, manager Arsene Wenger backed Carl Jenkinson to soon return to his best.

Following his period out injured with two shoulder surgeries and then knee surgery, Jenkinson’s battle back to fitness has certainly been a long journey, but with five appearances to his name so far this season he’ll be no doubt pleased to be back on track – albeit wanting more pitch action before the end of the campaign.

Speaking to the Official Site with the player not involved again against West Ham, Wenger spoke about his progression so far, and how it wasn’t just a return to fitness that is a struggle for players who have been out as long as he has, it’s also a mental and confidence battle.

‘Jenkinson has not played for a long long period. He had knee surgery after he had two shoulder surgeries and what he is going through at the moment is, for me, a bit normal but very difficult to live with for a player. Why? Because you think you are there and you will only realise in six months that he is not completely there. And then you will play and realise you are not as good as you think you should be and you lose confidence. He is going through that period at the moment.’

This doesn’t overly worry Wenger though, as per his explanation it’s a pretty standard recovery process both physically and mentally and it’s something players overcome in time as they get back to their best and find their form and happiness again, and he feels Jenkinson is well on the way on that score.

‘He has lost confidence because the Jenkinson you see at the moment is the Jenkinson who can play but not completely himself because he has no confidence. That will come back. He will be in and out and suddenly after one or two months, he will make the step and play. It is natural and very difficult.’

Wenger did say that in today’s social media world and the more easily available route to critics, it does make it a touch more difficult for players, but ultimately it’s about them using their heads and not reading that criticism so they can focus on what’s important.

‘Today it is even more difficult because, as you say, he gets quickly hammered by everybody on social media. I hope he doesn`t read all that and focuses on his game.’

He ended by saying that at this moment in time it’s also unfair for people to compare him to Hector Bellerin, as ultimately Jenkinson isn’t yet back to his best so it’s a pressure he doesn’t need.

‘Bellerin is one of the best in his position certainly in Europe, but Carl can compete with him. At the moment, no, because mentally he has not found back his total level nor his confidence. The best way to help them is to respect the fact to play them when they are competitive, because if you don`t play them, they are not completely ready mentally it`s even worse.’

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