Folarin Balogun can show Mikel Arteta why he deserves Arsenal chance as he leads line for England U21s

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Folarin Balogun can show Mikel Arteta why he deserves Arsenal chance as he leads line for England U21s
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Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun has been told he can follow in the footsteps of teammate Eddie Nketiah with the England Under-21s tonight.

Nketiah became the all-time top goalscorer at that level last season despite limited chances in club football, and can prove an inspiration for Balogun as he leads the line against the Czech Republic later.

With first choice Rhian Brewster suspended after his red card against Andorra last month, Arsenal’s 20-year-old academy graduate, who was born in New York but has elected to represent England at youth level, has been given his chance to shine with a first start for the Under-21s.

Balogun has 11 goals in nine academy games so far this season and started for the first team at Brentford on the opening day of the Premier League season when Mikel Arteta’s squad was hard hit by injury and illness.

Despite the club having to fight hard to keep Balogun over the summer, the youngster has made just three senior appearances so far this season.

Asked if, like Nketiah, the Young Lions could offer Balogun a chance to shine, manager Lee Carsley said: “Definitely and I had a conversation with Flo a week ago to tell him that he was going to start, he was going to be our No9 and that to make sure that he was fully focused when he came in.

“I wanted him to have that chance to mentally prepare that he was going to be our No9 and our one that we’re looking at to score goals.

“I’ve seen that this week in training, I can see the focus he’s had and he’s relished that chance. It’s down to him now, Rhian getting sent off. I like Rhian and we’ll keep giving him opportunities but we want competition for places and we want the lads to push each other and Flo is definitely capable of doing that.”

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