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Arsenal's Jack Wilshere believes Emile Smith Rowe ready for first-team debut

Jack Wilshere has backed Arsenal teenager Emile Smith Rowe to follow his path into the first team, saying the midfielder has something "a bit special."

Smith Rowe was Arsenal's standout performer in their run to the FA Youth Cup final, although he was part of the side that fell 7-1 on aggregate to Chelsea.

The 17-year-old has already been earmarked by outgoing manager Arsene Wenger as one of the academy products who is next in line for a first-team breakthrough, and Wilshere, who helped Arsenal win the 2009 FA Youth Cup before establishing himself as a regular in Wenger's side, said Smith Rowe has what it takes to follow in his footsteps.

"He's been great throughout the cup run," Wilshere told Arsenal's website after watching at the Emirates as Arsenal lost 4-0 on Monday in the second leg of the final.

"When he has stepped up to [train] with the first team, he hasn't looked out of place and that's a sign of someone who has a real opportunity of not just making a career, but playing at this club, which I know is difficult. You can see over the years the good players that haven't quite made it, but he has got something a little bit special, and he has a real chance."

Smith Rowe, who has yet to be part of an Arsenal first-team squad. won the Under-17 World Cup with England last summer and had a standout performance in Arsenal's semifinal win over Blackpool in the FA Youth Cup.

Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.

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