Last night was a hugely significant occasion in the career of Charles Sagoe Jr, with the winger making his competitive senior debut for Arsenal against Brentford.
The 19-year-old’s progression has been somewhat similar to that of Alex Iwobi in that he initially had to be patient for opportunities at youth level. However, since the start of last season Sagoe Jr has really stepped up and has proceeded to establish himself as a key player on the left wing for the U21s.
Although he wasn’t heavily involved against Brentford, it was still an excellent experience for Sagoe Jr and it was pleasing to see Mikel Arteta call upon an academy player to start the game, something which hasn’t happened too often in recent years.
Arsenal also named Reuell Walters, Amario Cozier-Duberry and James Sweet on the bench, with the latter, a hard-working right-back, receiving his first callup to the squad.
There are plenty of other prospects waiting in the wings too and it is hoped that more players will be afforded opportunities at some stage.
Arsenal have been drawn away to West Ham in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, which may not be the easiest location to give chances to youngsters. However, if, as was the case last night, some senior players are missing due to injury then it may well be the case that some academy players are called upon.
In addition, the Champions League could represent an opportunity for some youngsters to get on the bench given that 12 substitutes can be named in that competition. One problem, however, is that in the group stages the U19s are scheduled to play on the same day as the first-team on each occasion.