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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Willock has real potential - Wenger

Arsene Wenger believes that 16-year-old Chris Willock has the potential to step up and play for Arsenal after impressing for the club in preseason.

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Willock was picked to start by Wenger in Saturday's friendly against Boreham Wood, and played for 45 minutes as the Gunners won 2-0.

While the manager confirmed the teenager needs to develop physically to enter his first-team selection plans, Wenger is confident in Willock's ability.

"He's a very young boy and I wanted him to have a run out with the big boys to see how much he has to do," he told Arsenal's official website. "But technically and tactically he integrated very well.

"Of course it's natural that he lacks a bit of power at that age but when he gets that he will be a very interesting player."

Wenger has given the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Jack Wilshere and Serge Gnabry preseason chances at just 16, and the coach stated he used the friendly as both a chance for the likes of Willock to impress as well as a fitness test for the club's more established stars.

"[The game] was a good opportunity to give everyone 45 minutes," Wenger continued. "We lacked a bit of incisiveness in our runs and passes which is normal because we are not ready and it was very hot.

"It is more to see who can integrate into the first team from the youth team -- who is the closest to the first team. For the first-team players who are used to playing in the Premier League, it was to see how fit they are and how much more work they need."

Willock's two brothers, Joe and Matthew, are also highly rated young footballers, playing for Arsenal and Manchester United respectively.

Long-term absentee Abou Diaby also managed to play 45 minutes against Boreham Wood, and Wenger is eager for the midfielder to regain full fitness for the new season.

"You wish that [Diaby] just gets through the game, which happened here -- I'm very pleased with that," he added.

"If you get a fit Diaby back, it will be a major asset for our team. At the moment we go step by step and he came through this game so that's very good news for us."

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