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Apr 13, 2013

Wenger: Youngsters must prove worth

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims he will always "make room" for young English players at the Emirates Stadium as long as they are good enough.

• Blog: Injuries and suspensions shouldn't disrupt Arsenal

The development of English talent has come into the question recently with England assistant coach Gary Neville believing the "pathway is blocked" for the country's best junior players by the Premier League's foreign legion.

However, Wenger disagrees, believing young players need to be playing with the league's best players to further their development.

"I am not convinced by Gary's theory because if you want to develop their qualities, and if he is talented, you put your child in a good class," Wenger said. "If he is in a good class, he develops better than in a poor class.

"Look at Aston Villa. They play plenty of young players. Wilshere was good enough here. He played. You make room for them. It is a theory that it is a bit too protective for me and not enough competitive.

"For young, English players to have the privilege to play in training every day with world-class players gives you an opportunity to improve much quicker than a guy who is isolated in the middle of Africa and has nobody to compare to."

"If you listen to any player, he will say to you: 'I improved because I have seen Dennis Bergkamp in training and I play with him every day'."

However, with only Chelsea remaining in European competition, Wenger claims inquiries need to be made as to why English clubs have failed to make an impact on the continent.

"Is it because our championship is too hard? Is it as we don't have a winter break? Is it because our level has gone down? I don't know," he said. "But we must not be in denial and say 'we are the best in the world'."

But no matter the problems plaguing English clubs in European competition, Wenger is confident the Premier League is still the most admired competition in the world.

"If you look at the attractiveness of the game, and go from channel to channel of French game-English game you stay with the English one," he said. "The whole package, the ingredients of passion, commitment and pace of the game, that is superior.

"The Premier League is super-competitive compared to Spain where you have only two teams who can really win it. In England it is very competitive in every game."

Arsenal remain in fifth position in the race for the top-four, but have a chance to overtake fierce rivals Tottenham when they take on Norwich on Saturday.

And Wenger is not hiding the importance of claiming all three points against the Canaries.

"This is a massive week for us," Wenger said. "Experience helps always, particularly a positive experience, but now it is down to being at our best in every game.

"We have a chance to build an advantage, but since five weeks ago we have known we must win our (own) games. It does not matter whether Tottenham play or not, we have to win."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.