Arsenal have begun the process of reducing their large number of young professionals by releasing Mark Randall and Thomas Cruise.
The departures of Randall and Cruise aren’t exactly shocks to the system, with both players failing to establish themselves over a sustained period of time and enduring difficult loan spells last campaign.
Randall was thrust into the first-team limelight during his first-season as a scholar, in 2006/07, and went on to make 13 appearances for the club, including the Premier League game away to Sunderland in 2007/08 and away to Portsmouth a year later. He also featured in Champions League fixtures against FC Twente and Porto but, following the signing of Aaron Ramsey, was increasingly edged out of the first-team picture, as mirrored by the downward trajectory of his loan spells.
Having spent the second half of the 2007/08 season on loan at Burnley in the Championship, he spent a spell with hometown club MK Dons in League One last season before a rather fruitless stint at Rotherham United in League Two this season, where he was often omitted from the matchday squad. He will now seek to re-build his career and, given that he has played, albeit fleetingly in Europe and in the Premier League, he should receive several offers for his services.
Cruise’s departure comes at the end of a season which has been an altogether frustrating one punctuated by an injury which required surgery and a loan spell at Carlisle United which did not significantly enhance his development. A member of the 2008/09 FA Youth Cup and Premier Academy League-winning side, he leaves with a solitary first-team outing to his name, the Champions League group stage defeat to Olympiacos last season.
Randall and Cruise’s departures add to those of Roarie Deacon, who was on trial at Sunderland recently, and George Brislen-Hall, who was not offered a professional deal following the expiry of his scholarship.
It is somewhat surprising that there have not been further departures as yet, with Gavin Hoyte and Rhys Murphy also prominent candidates to be released. Hoyte, though, is currently recovering from a long-term injury sustained whilst on loan at Lincoln, whilst Murphy is expected to go on loan again next season.