Arsenal have officially promoted Hector Bellerin, Isaac Hayden and Chuba Akpom to the first-team squad.
All three players have been on the fringes of the first-team picture for some time.
Bellerin already has five first-team appearances to his name and has featured in the past two Premier League fixtures, against Hull City and Sunderland. The right-back, who joined Arsenal from Barcelona in 2011, also started in the Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund last month. He spent part of last season on loan at Watford in the Championship.
Hayden, meanwhile, has two starts to his name in the Capital One Cup, whilst Akpom has also featured in that competition as well as making his Premier League debut against Sunderland last season.
All three players have been regulars for Arsenal’s U21 team over the past few seasons and will continue to feature for the second-string when required. Akpom has started the season in particularly good form at U21 level, having scored six goals in as many games.
Bellerin, Hayden and Akpom will retain their respective squad numbers of 39, 42 and 38 for this season, but will probably receive lower numbers next campaign to reflect their promotion. Bellerin is likely to be retained as first-team cover this season, but Hayden and Akpom could both go on loan as the season progresses. England U20 striker Akpom spent time on loan at both Brentford and Coventry City last season.
Hayden joined Arsenal from Southend United as a schoolboy, whilst Akpom progressed all the way through Arsenal’s Hale End system.
The promotions of Bellerin and Hayden are particularly timely given the current lack of senior defenders at the club. Hayden, who is currently recovering from a slight injury, provides another option at centre-back, whilst he is also capable of operating as a defensive-midfielder if required.
There are now eight academy graduates in the first-team squad, with Bellerin, Hayden and Akpom joining Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Serge Gnabry and Gedion Zelalem, who all signed scholarship terms with the club before progressing to the senior side.