Opportunities for youngsters from outside the first-team squad have been few and far between so far this season, but tonight, as Arsenal conclude their Europa League group stage fixtures with a trip to Standard Liege, there could be as many as three debutants.
Robbie Burton, James Olayinka and Tyreece John-Jules have all featured for the senior side in friendlies but have yet to step on the field in a competitive fixture. That could well change tonight, with the first-team squad heavily affected by injuries.
Burton has captained Arsenal’s U23 side this season and the Welsh midfielder has shown some significant signs of improvement in terms of his tactical understanding of the game while maintaining his impressive passing range.
Olayinka, another midfielder, has struggled with injuries at times and hasn’t been able to hold down a regular place in the starting lineup for the second string, but some of his best performances have been when he has represented the first-team.
John-Jules, meanwhile, has been in impressive form for the U23s, scoring some spectacular goals. An injury prevented him from being named on the bench against Nottingham Forest earlier in the campaign but the highly regarded young striker could now finally get an opportunity to impress.
Interestingly, Zech Medley has also travelled to Liege despite having mainly been a substitute for the U23s this season. Although he is most comfortable at centre-back, he is also capable of filling in at left-back – a position where the first-team are currently short of options with Kieran Tierney set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.