Wednesday 25 April 2018

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain willing to do whatever it takes to keep his place

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, pictured, believes England are close to finding an identity under manager Gareth Southgate
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, pictured, believes England are close to finding an identity under manager Gareth Southgate

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is happy to continue being Mr Versatile for club and country.

Six years on from taking the leap from League One to join Premier League title challengers Arsenal, it is the 23-year-old's position rather than ability that is of question.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has excelled in central midfield and regularly been deployed out wide, while the England international ended the season playing right wing-back for the Gunners.

On Saturday he scored at Hampden Park shortly after replacing wide man Marcus Rashford against Scotland and manager Gareth Southgate now has to decide how best to utilise him in Tuesday's friendly in France.

"I enjoyed them all for different reasons," Oxlade-Chamberlain said of his positional switches. "I played more of my games on the wing, then a moment playing in midfield for a while.

"Our results weren't good at that time, but I really enjoyed that and started to get some rhythm and to feel comfortable.

"Then we had an international break and I missed the next game, Aaron (Ramsey) came back in and, with the change of formation, the wing-back role was interesting but one I adapted to quickly as best I could. I really enjoyed that.

"There were some times when we were playing against a few teams where I was a bit deeper than I'd like to, in a right-back role which I don't really enjoy, but I was more than happy to do the job.

"Wherever I played, I had an opportunity to show my attributes. Which did I enjoy the most? Not sure. Midfield, but we lost quite a few of those games."

Being versatile is no doubt helpful for his managers, but can possibly hinder a player's progress.

"It's not my fault people keep putting me everywhere," Oxlade-Chamberlain added. "I play where I'm told to play.

"The more positions I can play, it gives the manager a nice headache and it can be helpful for him.

"I understand about really nailing down one, but the way Arsenal and England play, the boys are all interchanging other than the defenders.

"Everyone has that licence to drift around. I've played on the wing in some games and found myself in the middle for five or 10 minutes when others drift wide.

"It's about creating chances, scoring goals and helping the team win."

Oxlade-Chamberlain's love for the game is as clear as his desire to kick on after missing Euro 2016 through injury and having failed to recover in time from a knee complaint at the World Cup three years ago.

"My England career, honestly, I feel like it is has been in two halves," he said. "I'm starting the second part of it.

"Everything came quite quick and fast, and I got a lot of caps quite quickly, then was injured and had a spell out, missed the Euros. There was quite a long gap where I didn't play.

"In this squad, a lot of new boys have come in so it feels like a new squad.

"Strange, but a new challenge and quite a refreshing one to be a part of.

"A bit stop start, my career, but at this moment I have a lot of faith in this new team and the manager and what we're trying to build here.

"I'm excited about the journey. The Under-20s lads (that just won the World Cup), they'll get opportunities depending upon how well they do. The manager is not afraid to give opportunities."

Press Association

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