Arsenal U23s still haven’t played since March but Arthur Okonkwo has endured an even more frustrating situation, with the goalkeeper having not featured for over a year.
The 18-year-old wasn’t able to play due to a health issue but it was a welcome sight to see him back in training with Steve Bould’s squad at London Colney yesterday.
Prior to his setback Okonkwo looked a near certainty to eventually become Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper after he produced some outstanding performances towards the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
Tall and a good distributor of the ball, he possesses excellent reflexes and organises his defence well.
It isn’t currently clear exactly when the U23s will play again but the hope is that they will be in action at some point in September.
Okonkwo will hope that he will be able to play regularly, although he will acknowledge that there is a considerable amount of competition in the goalkeeping department.
Karl Hein is very highly rated by the club and has been training with the first-team in recent weeks. The Estonian also warmed up with the squad ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley.
James Hillson will also be looking to make an impact having been used sparingly in his first full season at the club, while Tom Smith is back available too after a spell on the sidelines.
Deyan Iliev, meanwhile, is back from his loan at Jagiellonia Bialystok but could well head out on temporary transfer again.
With at least four U23 goalkeepers and others looking to push on from the U18s, not to mention Matt Macey occasionally needing game time, it seems unlikely that Okonkwo will be able to play every game, as he was doing when he was last fully fit.
However, after the difficulties that he has endured over the past year, simply playing at all will feel incredible for him.