As a young player at Arsenal there are various milestones that you must reach if you are to achieve the incredibly difficult task of establishing yourself as a first-team player.
One of the key stages is signing a professional contract, and that is something that Hale End products Mark McGuinness and Zak Swanson both achieved this week.
Both McGuinness and Swanson have played significant parts for Arsenal U18s this season in their quest to win the title, and the pair have been rewarded for their efforts.
McGuinness, a tall centre-back, was recently called up by the Republic of Ireland at U19 level and poses a significant threat from set-pieces, but it is defensively where his best qualities lie as the 18-year-old is capable of making precisely-timed interceptions with regularity.
Swanson, meanwhile, has proven to be an incredibly useful asset for the U18s this season due to his versatility.
Most comfortable as a winger or a central-midfielder, he has frequently been deployed at left-back this campaign while Joel Lopez has taken time to adapt to the demands of English football.
Swanson has also featured at right-back and centre-back on occasion and has always approached each game with complete commitment regardless of where he has been deployed.
Next season McGuinness and Swanson will both be aiming to establish themselves as important players in Arsenal’s U23 side, although that certainly won’t be an easy task given the competition for places at that level.
If they are patient, however, then the Hale End products will eventually receive opportunities to impress and it will be intriguing to see how they fare against older opponents.
This week represented a significant step in the right direction for both McGuinness and Swanson, but they will be fully aware that there is still much more work to do.
Jeorge Bird is the author of www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird
Good luck lads. Welcome onboard!
Jeorge, wasn.t it a surprise that Tom Smith got the nod in goal?
Ben Cottrell looks a good player