Arsenal have confirmed that 18-year-old goalkeeper James Hillson has signed a permanent contract after joining on loan midway through last season.
While he didn’t actually get a chance to feature in the league for the under-18s, he’s been rewarded for his performances in training and is expected to provide further competition between the sticks at youth level.
Two other youngsters, attacking midfielder Ben Cottrell and left-back Joel Lopez have also signed their first professional contracts. Both players were key for the under-18s as they won the title last season.
Elsewhere, the under-23 squad – including the lesser spotted Kelechi Nwakali – got their first taste of life under Steve Bould yesterday when they returned for pre-season training.
Bould will coach the group this season as he and Freddie Ljungberg, promoted to the first team set-up, look to help outstanding Academy graduates make the grade at the Emirates.
As our resident youth expert, Jeorge Bird, mentioned on Twitter, some of the youngsters – those involved in internationals during the summer were not back. Others could well be promoted to the first team.
Some players not in training yet – Iliev, Nketiah, Nelson, Smith Rowe, Bielik, Willock, Macey. Some could be promoted soon.
— Jeorge Bird (@jeorgebird) July 2, 2019
Academy director Per Mertesacker, Bouldy’s assistant Ryan Garry and head of coach and player development Marcel Lucassen were amongst those keeping an eye on proceedings.