Picture from theFA.com
After a fine campaign last season, in which he notched 17 goals in 21 games for the u-18s last season, Rhys Murphy has had to take a back seat this campaign after a hernia problem kept him out for almost five months. He made his comeback in the Reserve game against Reading last week, coming on a substitute and added some firepower to the attack, but lacked a cutting edge. It was understandable given the length of his injury, but the problem is whether he will be able to return to the all-action, high tempo displays of last season.
Rhys burst onto the scene last season, whilst still a schoolboy. As mentioned he had a phenomonal goals to game ratio in the u-18s but he didn’t stop there. He made his reserve debut against Chelsea at Underhill, and went on to score at Old Trafford in the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup, before representing England at the u-17 World Cup in the summer, in which he put in several impressive displays.
Often likened to Alan Shearer, Rhys is a natural goalscorer but then again the u-18s always tend to have one of those. Every season, someone comes along and scores an incredible amount of goals and is hyped as the next big thing before experiencing a troubled campaign the season after. Remember Marc Elston? Two seasons ago, he scored in almost every game for the u-18s and now he’s playing for Chelmsford. Strangely enough, I can’t quite see Rhys’ career following the same path.
Rhys is highly regarded by the Arsenal coaching staff, who have watched him grow from a promising schoolboy at Hale End into one of the most talked about young players in the country. Arséne Wenger has also expressed his belief in him, naming Rhys as a substitute for the Emirates Cup last summer, after Gilles Sunu was unable to feature. His target from now until the end of the season is to get some games under his belt and hopefully rediscover his goalscoring touch. Once the first goes in, he’ll be full of confidence and will be hungry for more.
Next season will be a make or break one for Rhys. It will be the final year of his scholarship and he will be out to impress. A bad season could spell the end of his Arsenal career, whereas something like his form of last campaign would move him to within touching distance of the first team. Only time will tell whether he suceeds. On a personal note, he will be looking to get back into the England youth setup, having missed the last few games through injury. But international accolades can wait for a player who has more important matters to attend to right now.