The majority of Arsenal youngsters returned to training less than a week ago, but there has already been success for some and disappointment for others following their return to London Colney.
To begin with the positives, nine members of the U21 squad have been training with the first-team throughout the week with the ultimate aim of earning a seat on the plane for the club’s pre-season tour of Asia, which begins on Friday. Goalkeeper Damian Martinez appears a near certainty to be included following the departure of Vito Mannone, whilst Ignasi Miquel is likely to provide much-needed back-up at centre-back.
Swedish midfielder Kristoffer Olsson is another prime candidate to make the trip after impressing in training, but Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff will face a difficult decision on the remaining six players, with Nico Yennaris, Chuks Aneke, Thomas Eisfeld, Serge Gnabry, Gedion Zelalem and Chuba Akpom all possessing strong cases for inclusion.
Those who remain behind will form part of the U21 side that will commence their preparations for the upcoming campaign with a friendly away to Conference South side Sutton United on Friday. Wellington Silva, back from a difficult loan spell with Ponferradina, could be involved, whilst Deyan Iliev will relish the opportunity to impress in the absence of Martinez.
There has been some bad news on the injury front for some of Arsenal’s talented youngsters, however, with winger Tarum Dawkins still recovering from a problem sustained last season, whilst striker Zak Ansah was yesterday ruled out for around six months after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament for the second time.
Left-back Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill, meanwhile, will miss the first six to eight weeks of the campaign with a knee problem. These injuries hardly render the past week as the best of starts for Arsenal’s youngsters, but there has at least been some positive news, with new signings Dan Crowley and Jamaal Raage settling in well during their first week at the club.
Prior to his injury blow, Ansah had begun the new campaign with some positive news after pledging his immediate future to the club. The striker was joined by Anthony Jeffrey and Zach Fagan in signing a new professional contract.