Last season everything appeared to be going to plan for Ben Cottrell, with the talented midfielder making his senior Arsenal debut as a substitute against Dundalk, while he was a mainstay for the U23s, playing every minute when available.
Cottrell then suffered a long-term injury and has endured much frustration since then.
The youngster worked his way back to fitness in time for pre-season and had been earmarked for a loan move but that didn’t materialise.
Instead, Cottrell remained at Arsenal as part of the U23 squad but he is currently finding it difficult to get regular playing time at that level.
Cottrell played 71 minutes against West Ham United as Arsenal lost 6-1 in the opening game of the season but hasn’t featured since then and has been an unused substitute on three occasions.
The 19-year-old is an excellent passer and possesses much in the way of technical ability, so it is a somewhat strange situation for him to find himself in.
One factor to consider is that Cottrell doesn’t fit neatly into the formation that coach Kevin Betsy deploys as the system doesn’t usually include an attacking midfielder, which is where Cottrell likes to play.
It is possible that Cottrell could be used deeper in midfield but that may limit his creativity a little.
With the likes of Charlie Patino, Tim Akinola and Salah-Eddine in good form and James Olayinka also pushing for a start, Cottrell has found himself on the fringes recently.
If any of the aforementioned players were to suffer an injury it could open the door for Cottrell, who will be eager to seize any opportunity he is afforded. He could also potentially be used out wide or maybe even as a left wing-back, where he featured against MK Dons in a first-team friendly last year.
Cottrell, who progressed steadily through the ranks at Hale End before making the step up to London Colney in 2018, really needs to go on loan in January.
Before then he will hope that he will somehow be able to get back into an Arsenal U23 side that he was the heartbeat of not too long ago.