The identity of the youngsters selected to train with the first-team in pre-season this week hasn’t come as much of a surprise.
Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah all racked up plenty of senior game time last season, while Matt Macey, Deyan Iliev and Jordi Osei-Tutu have also previously at least made the bench for the first-team.
For Emile Smith Rowe, however, his involvement with Unai Emery’s squad has been rather significant as it hints that the hugely talented youngster could receive some game time during pre-season.
Arsenal commence their preparation fixtures against Boreham Wood a week on Saturday, and, given the opposition, Emery may feel inclined to give Smith Rowe a run out to assess his credentials further.
Last season Smith Rowe, despite enduring some injury setbacks, continued to enhance his profile, especially during the FA Youth Cup, as he produced some excellent performances.
Having been developed as a winger, the Hale End product, who doesn’t turn 18 until later this month, has more recently been deployed as a central midfielder, and the transformation has been a successful one.
A superb dribbler and capable of playing exquisite passes, Smith Rowe is a joy to watch and, perhaps most importantly, he plays without fear, although he does strike plenty of fear into opposing defenders.
No longer eligible for the U18s, it is anticipated that this season Smith Rowe will continue to gain further experience at U23 level, having become increasingly involved for the second-string last campaign.
Smith Rowe’s main objective, though, will be to make his competitive debut for the first-team, and that could certainly come in one of the cup competitions.
Firstly, though, the England youth international will be determined to impress in training and convince Emery that he deserves some minutes against Boreham Wood.
If he was to impress at Meadow Park, a ground he knows well, then Smith Rowe might find himself in contention for the subsequent games in Singapore, although the situation will be complicated somewhat as some of the players who were on World Cup duty will be starting to return to training.
All Smith Rowe can do is focus on his own game, and the fact that he is involved in first-team training already is a very positive sign indeed.