When it was announced on Tuesday that six Academy prospects had signed their first professional contracts at the club, the news of Henri Lansbury turning pro overshadowed the acheivements of the other five youngsters. But for Rhys Murphy and Sanchez Watt, this is the reward for years of hard work and next season they will be out to justify the Arsenal coaching staff’s decision.
The fact that these boys have been offered pro terms a year early goes some way to outline their potential, but it is up to them to fulfil it.
The news will come as a welcome lift for Murphy who experienced a frustrating campaign last season which was marred by injury. After impressing in 2006/2007 as a schoolboy scoring 17 goals in 21 games, he missed much of last season because of a hernia problem. Nonetheless, he returned to play a key role in the end of season run-in scoring five goals from ten starts overall including a purple patch in which he scored in three consecutive games. The striker, who represented England at last summer’s UEFA u-17 Championships, also scored his first goals for the reserves as he finished the season strongly. Next season will see him strive to become a reserve regular and some good performances could earn him a place in the Carling Cup squad the following season. If he can steer clear of injuries and perform well consistently then there’s no reason why he can’t reach the top.
As for Sanchez Watt well there’s not many other ways to describe him other than that he is a special player. He showed glimpses of his talent last season, scoring on his home reserve debut against Portsmouth and finding the net seven times in total for the under-18s. Comfortable on either wing as well as central-midfield there have been rumours circulating that Barcelona were tracking his progress and were considering making a bid for him. It remains to be seen what the coaches have planned for him next season. He will look to play regularly in the reserves but considering he has already trained with the first-team on numerous occassions he can’t be too far away from a first-team call up either.