Last season, when Harry Donovan was just another schoolboy at Arsenal’s Hale End academy, the youngster could hardly have dreamt that in such a short space of time he would be training with players of the calibre of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla.
That is exactly what happened on Monday morning, however, when Donovan, a diligent midfielder, was selected to train with the first-team squad as they prepared for the Champions League game away to Monaco.
There were some mitigating circumstances, with Donovan one of the few youth players remaining at London Colney as the U21s were travelling to face Blackburn Rovers at the same time. It was still a memorable experience for the youngster, though, and one that will surely provide him with an incentive to keep developing over the next few years.
A mainstay of the club’s U18 side this season, Donovan, who is yet to be capped by England at youth level, has demonstrated that he is capable of playing either as an attacking midfielder or in a slightly deeper-lying position.
An intelligent passer of the ball, he is also extremely hard working and has found the net on a couple of occasions this campaign, including a fine strike in a victory over Chelsea at the start of the season.
Donovan also featured briefly in Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League campaign, emerging off the bench as a substitute in the final group stage game away to Galatasaray, and was an un-used substitute for all three of the club’s FA Youth Cup fixtures this season.
He will aim to continue to feature regularly for the U18s in the remaining months of this campaign, but will have designs on reaching greater heights next season.
The youngster has yet to be called up to the U21 squad and isn’t yet guaranteed a professional deal, something he will be seeking to address with his performances.
The experience that he had on Monday, though, certainly won’t be forgotten in a hurry and will give the youngster, who impressed during the recent AlKass International Cup in Qatar, belief that he has what it takes to progress even further.