Keen gives young striker ringing endorsement as Arsenal name squad
SAIDO Berahino has received a ringing endorsement from joint-assistant head coach Kevin Keen as the striker himself set his sights on Capital One Cup glory.
The 20-year-old striker set up tonight's third-round clash with Arsenal (ko 8pm) thanks to his hat-trick in the 3-0 win over Newport.
And he is hoping he gets the chance to take on a Gunners squad that includes Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Arteta, Viviano, Monreal, Flamini, Fabianski, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Park, Ryo, Akpom, Bellerin, Eisfeld, Gnabry, Hatden, Olsson, Iwobi.
"Regardless of what team they put out, Arsenal have got top players and it’s going to be a really big game,” said Berahino.
“But we have been preparing since Sunday after the win against Sunderland and we’re ready for it.
“The gaffer’s message from day one has been that he wants us to keep going in the cup.
“He says if Swansea did it, why can’t we do it?
“And the players want it as well. We want to get to the final and hopefully win it.
“But we just have to focus on every match and it’s Arsenal next, so we have to focus on Arsenal and hopefully after the game we will be the winners.”
Berahino’s hat-trick against Newport triggered a remarkable month that saw him net twice in two games for England Under-21s and make his Barclays Premier League debut.
But he insists he has now moved on from his second-round heroics.
“It was a great evening,” he added.
"I thanked God and my whole family for being there for me from day one.
"But that’s the past now for me and I’m just looking forward to every new challenge that comes every day.
"It's great that the gaffer has faith in me and I thank him a lot and now it’s up to me to take every opportunity that comes my way.
"I have learned a lot in the last few weeks. I am training day in, day out with the best players at the club and they’re really good to me.
“They give me lots of advice and I’m just taking in as much as I can this season.
"It’s great for me to get an opportunity because that’s what every youngster wants.
“And it shows there are doors for all the other youngsters in our academy if they put the work in.”
And Keen insists the coaching staff have no fear Berahino can test the Gunners.
“Saido has a massive future for us,” said Keen.
“I don't want to build him up too much but he could not just be a good player for West Brom - but he's done well with the Under-21s and maybe he could do so with England too.
“He's in a good place and he deserves it.
“He had a bad injury last winter, he worked very hard with our physio staff - both him and George Thorne - and for young players to come back from big injuries, shows how hard they've worked.
“He worked hard during the summer, had a fantastic pre-season, scored a hat-trick against Newport, and maybe if he gets a chance tonight he might be able to get us another goal."