Arsene Wenger has long considered Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill to be a promising player for the future, with the young left-back having trained with the senior side on several occasions during the past three seasons.
Today, the 18 year old, along with goalkeeper Matt Macey, was temporarily promoted from the U21 training group to the first-team one, with several players still away following their participation in the World Cup. If he is to make that transition a permanent one in the future, however, Ormonde-Ottewill has a rather difficult challenge on his hands.
Like many modern left-backs, Ormonde-Ottewill is adept in an attacking sense, frequently delivering dangerous crosses into the opposition’s penalty area, but concerns have emerged about his defensive capabilities over the past year, with his lack of positional awareness horribly exposed by the likes of Everton U18s and Barcelona’s UEFA Youth League side.
With Kieran Gibbs, another Academy product, having been handed the number three shirt today, Ormonde-Ottewill faces an immense task if he is to succeed at Arsenal in the long-term, but he will be hopeful of making his senior debut this season in the Capital One Cup.
Macey, meanwhile, is edging closer to the first-team picture and it seems as if he is locked in a battle with fellow shot-stopper Damian Martinez for a place in the senior squad as third choice, presuming a deputy to Wojciech Szczesny is acquired in this transfer window.
Ignasi Miquel, Chuba Akpom, Hector Bellerin, Kristoffer Olsson, Julio Pleguezuelo, Benik Afobe, Semi Ajayi, Thomas Eisfeld and Isaac Hayden have also been training with the first-team this week, with each of those 10 players possessing varying short-term aims. For Miquel, Ajayi, Afobe and Eisfeld, this is perhaps their final chance to make the breakthrough. Akpom, Bellerin, Olsson and Hayden will be hoping to add to their limited experience of professional football and perhaps earn a promotion this Summer.
The most intriguing case, though, is that of Pleguezuelo. The Spanish centre-back is almost unrecognisable from last season having dyed his hair and switched to Puma boots, but his potential remains hugely encouraging. There have been tentative murmurings that the youngster could be named as the club’s fourth-choice centre-back for the new season, although, at just 17 years of age, he may initially be restricted to outings in the Captial One Cup.