James Shea ready to stand up and be counted

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Now that Wojciech Szczesny is inelligible for the under-18s, Islington-born ‘keeper James Shea will finally get an opportunity to step forward and show what he is made of. James is now a second-year scholar and knows that this season could be a vital one in his Arsenal career. Breaking into the reserve side is going to take some doing, but for now the shot stopper is fully focussed on impressing for Steve Bould’s Academy side.

Last season, James played a handful of games at under-18 level and wasn’t entirely convincing. He seemed poor on crosses and his lack of height looked like a major weakness.

Perhaps it was just nerves. Either that, or he has been putting in a lot of hard work over the summer and today against Everton put in a splendid display. He hurt his arm diving in for one ball but played on regardless and made some good catches. He also encouraged his team-mates to go forward, often shouting ‘It’s 0-0 again, lads’ in order to help his colleagues maintain their focus. Maybe his player rating in my match report should have been higher and it certainly would have been had he not let in a goal as a result of a set-piece with eleven minutes to go. Nonetheless, if he continues churning out performances like this then he may even start to put pressure on Wojciech Szczesny for the Reserves jersey.

We are only one game into the season but the signs certainly look promising. Charlie Mann and Daniel Bentley are patiently waiting in the wings, but at the moment it looks as if they will have to wait until next season as Shea looks as if he will be very difficult to dislodge at the moment.

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