Matt Smith and Jack Henry-Francis among Arsenal academy midfielders hoping for first-team call-ups

The transfer window has closed without Arsenal bringing in another midfielder, and there could be some youngsters who get called up to the senior squad between now and January.

Matt Smith was on the bench for the first-team against Aston Villa and the 21-year-old will hope that he will be called up again.

His chances of doing so appear high, especially with Arsenal’s first-team squad consisting of just 24 players and there being the possibility of 12 substitutes being named for Europa League games.

Smith has been used as a central midfielder in the early stages of the season for the U21s, although he also has experience of playing in a deeper midfield position. He has an excellent passing range but does need to react quicker under pressure at times.

Jack Henry-Francis is another player who could get called up. The Republic of Ireland youth international caught the eye for the Arsenal first-team in a friendly against Hibernian last year.

Henry-Francis is known for his tenaciousness and like Smith is also a fine passer. He does, though, need to get a bit stronger.

Ben Cottrell is unfortunately injured yet again, but Mauro Bandeira will be looking to impress for the U21s and perhaps even push on further.

An all-action midfielder, Bandeira signed his first professional contract this summer after frequently impressing for the U21s. He is strong physically and is a little more attacking minded than Smith and Henry-Francis. He has already played for the first-team in friendlies.

Attacking midfielder Catalin Cirjan has had much misfortune with injuries but is gradually working his way back to full sharpness.

Bradley Ibrahim is just 17 and has started the season with the U18s but he is regarded highly by Mikel Arteta and bas also previously been involved with the first-team in a behind closed doors fixture.

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8 comments

  1. Matt Smith has a good number of senior games under his belt, he absolutely needs to be getting the call after Elneny’s injury

  2. 39 players have left the club since the end of last season, either permanently or on loan.

    That is some cut in the wage bill assuming all 24 loanees are having their wages paid by their new clubs

  3. Jeorge is Reuell Walters injured – sorry if I’ve missed this – and if so then how long is he due to be out?

    Interesting to see Matt Smith retained, Olayinka sold and Azeez loaned out to the Spanish Championship, a vote of confidence for Matt? I guess we’ll find out soon enough but I’d love to see him play, play well and ultimately well enough to save the club a transfer fee…

  4. Who are the standout names unlikely to get into the Europa squad, either B-list or A-list (which must have a couple of spare spaces)?

  5. OMG i read people worried about winning the PL2? If you cannot understand what academy football is about you should really give up. I hear people complaining that a teenager is played out of position, etc, etc. Playing in different positions and learning your trade is surely what it is all about? No matter what your trade, if you do not spread your wings, you will always fail.

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