Pennant: Wenger should have shown faith
By Steve Luckings
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
The England Under-21 winger is on loan from The Gunners to Leeds United where he is playing his first full season in a first team despite making headlines when he moved to Highbury from Notts County in November 1999.
The 21-year-old made his debut just shy of his 17th birthday but only went on to make a handful of appearances in Wenger's starting XI, with Pennant believing he could have made the same kind of impact as Everton's Wayne Rooney had Wenger given him the chance.
Pennant has just had his loan extended with the Elland Road outfit for a further month which is most likely to turn into a season-long loan, and says he fears fading into the shadows if he returns to North London.
Pennant told the Sunday Mirror: "I am loving it at Leeds but I've got a year left on my contract and I'll have to go back to Highbury.
"I'd really like to play for them still because I don't think you can get any bigger than Arsenal.
"The problem is I could just fade away. I need to play first-team football.
"There was a lot of hype when I came to Arsenal as a 15-year-old kid. It's the same sort of hype that Wayne Rooney now attracts.
"The Everton boss (David Moyes) showed a lot of faith in Rooney and played him at a young age and look what's happened to Wayne's career.
"But I've never been given a proper chance at Arsenal. I still hope to get that chance. Every time I've been put in I've done a good job for the team."
The Nottingham-born winger marked his full league debut last season with a hat-trick against Southampton but now looks to have fallen down the whizz-kids' pecking order, with Spanish youngsters Jose Reyes and Cesc, as well as David Bentley and Jeremie Aliadiere, all appearing to be higher in Wenger's plans.
Wenger also publicly criticised Pennant's lifestyle saying he feels the player has a discipline problem after turning up for training late several times, but Pennant says he feels the criticism is harsh.
Pennant hit back saying: "I might have turned up a little late for training for a good reason.
"Maybe we were supposed to be at training for ten and I'd turn up at ten past. But there wasn't a discipline problem."