MX23RW : Monday, March 1 09:50:00| >> :60:1603:1603:

Arsene Wenger: 'Chuba Akpom can make step up this season'

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger suggests that Chuba Akpom can step up to the first-team squad this season.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that Chuba Akpom can be part of his first-team squad this season.

The 19-year-old scored a hat-trick for the Gunners in Singapore on Wednesday as they earned a 4-0 win over Singha All Star XI in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

Akpom spent part of last season on loan at Nottingham Forest, but Wenger has now suggested that the teenager could break into the senior setup at the Emirates Stadium this term.

When asked what role Akpom will play during the upcoming campaign, the Frenchman told the club's official website: "That's up to him. How much? I don't know but I just believe that it's an encouragement to do well and to work even harder. He's a young player and it can lift his confidence.

"I sent him out on loan last year because I thought he needed that. This pre-season, during the season I plan to keep him with us. He has that grade to make between being a big talent and after an efficient talent week in, week out. That's of course the target."

Arsenal will face Everton in the final of the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday.

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Chuba Akpom of Arsenal in action during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and AS Monaco at the Emirates Stadium on August 3, 2014
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