Arsene Wenger has confirmed that he intends to give several of Arsenal’s promising youngsters the opportunity to prove their worth in a first-team environment during tomorrow’s first pre-season friendly away to Boreham Wood.
The Frenchman intends to field an entirely different side in each half, as he used to during previous fixtures against Barnet, in order to assess the various players at his disposal.
Twelve members of the first-team squad- Wojciech Szczesny, Carl Jenkinson, Abou Diaby, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Flamini, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal, Yaya Sanogo, Gedion Zelalem and Francis Coquelin- are due to feature at Meadow Park, leaving ten spaces for U21 players.
If we are to judge by those who have been training with the first-team during the past couple of weeks then Damian Martinez, Hector Bellerin, Isaac Hayden, Jon Toral, Chuba Akpom, Ignasi Miquel, Kristoffer Olsson, Benik Afobe, Thomas Eisfeld and one of Semi Ajayi and Julio Pleguezuelo are set to be involved. It is not currently clear whether trialist Ahmed Fathi will play any part.
For Toral, it would be his first call-up to the senior squad, as it would be for either Ajayi or Pleguezuelo. The others all have some experience of the first-team environment and their aim will be to perform so well that they prolong their stay with the first-team this Summer, to Austria, New York, the Emirates Cup and maybe even beyond.
Ryo, Theo Walcott and Serge Gnabry are all still recovering from injuries suffered last season, whilst most of the players who played at the World Cup, including new signings Alexis Sanchez and Mathieu Debuchy, are still on holiday. Jack Wilshere is back at the training ground, and is likely to be joined on Monday by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla.
Joel Campbell, along with Sanchez, Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, Olivier Giroud and Thomas Vermaelen, should be amongst the next batch of players to return in time for the Emirates Cup, with German trio Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski granted extended time off after their success in Brazil.