Highly rated young striker Folarin Balogun scored a hat-trick of penalties as Arsenal U23s ran out 3-1 winners over Blackburn Rovers last night.
The 18 year old tucked away three spot kicks to enhance his burgeoning reputation as one of the Academy’s rising stars, but from a first team point of view all eyes were on Rob Holding as he continued his comeback from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
The centre-half played 63 minutes before being replaced by Joseph Olowu, and his recovery schedule appears to be well on track. The 23 year old has been in full training with the first team squad since the summer tour of the US, and has earmarked the period after the first Interlull of the new season as the time when he’ll be ready to make his comeback.
Chances are he’ll play some Europa League football first before being thrust back into Premier League action, but having picked up the injury in early December 2018, he’s almost ready to get going again.
Meanwhile, Emile Smith Rowe got 45 minutes under his belt as he makes his way back from a groin problem which has seen him struggle to play any kind of football in the last few months. He had a loan spell at RB Leipzig last season, but only managed three brief substitute appearances in the Bundesliga.
The midfielder could well depart before the end of the transfer window, with the club keen for him to follow in the footsteps of Reiss Nelson and spend a season on loan before coming back home to stake a claim for a first team place at Arsenal.
There is interest in him again from Germany, and the window there closes on September 2nd, so there’s time for him to prove his fitness to any potential suitors.