From mascot to Arsenal's starting XI: Yennaris proves football dreams can come true
16:07 GMT, 25 September 2012
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Nico Yennaris' development shows sometimes 'dreams do come true' as the former Gunners mascot prepares to line up against Coventry in the Capital One Cup.
The 19-year-old midfielder will be part of a mixed Arsenal squad for the visit of the npower League One side.
The Sky Blues have fallen on hard times in recent seasons, but were established members of the top flight when Leytonstone-born Yennaris was a proud mascot aged seven for a game at Highbury in September 2000.
Young Gunner: Yennaris was the Arsenal mascot back in 2000
The youngster, whose father is a Greek Cypriot and mother Chinese, came through the Arsenal Academy and signed professional terms in July 2010, making his senior debut in the League Cup against Bolton last October before spending a brief loan spell with Notts County.
Wenger has been impressed with the midfielder's progress, with Yennaris having also made a substitute appearance in the Barclays Premier League against Manchester United in January.
'He has a good chance to be on the pitch on Wednesday night, so that is a fantastic story,' Wenger said on Arsenal Player.
'Dreams do come true sometimes when you really want it and have been lucky as well.
'First of all you must really want it and Nico is one of these guys who has that.
'He is ready to give himself a chance with full commitment. Nico is a fantastic player, but also has an excellent attitude – his is a good example to follow for all of the fans who will turn up on Wednesday night.'
As well as giving youngsters like Hector Bellerin, Kris Olsson, Serge Gnabry, Craig Eastmond and Ignasi Miquel the chance of some first-team action, Wenger will also give some of his fringe players the opportunity to impress.
Biding his time: Yennaris is the latest to come through the Arsenal ranks
Such is the current depth of Wenger's squad, which has made an unbeaten start to the new season following Sunday's 1-1 draw at Manchester City, Andrey Arshavin and Theo Walcott have struggled to make an impact, but should start.
Brazil international Andre Santos and Swiss defender Johan Djourou are also expected to come into the side.
French striker Olivier Giroud has yet to find the net since his summer move from Montpellier, so will have a great opportunity to break that duck.
Meanwhile, combative midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong may be in contention for the squad after recovering fitness from a serious knee injury.
Paid his dues: Yennaris will be hoping to kick rather than inflate the footballs on Wednesday night