Just one academy star on the plane to the USA

Everyone have a better night sleep last night?

Yesterday the travelling squad for the US tour was announced. It was very much a “senior” squad with the likes of Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Ben White and Aaron Ramsdale on the plane.

Just one academy player has been picked –Reuell Walters.

The lack of academy players on tour will be a surprise for many. Usually pre-season is a chance to integrate some of the youngsters into the first team.

The likes od Charlie Patino, Brooke Norton-Cuffy, Miguel Azeez, Omari Hutchinson, Marcelo Flores and Karl Hein might feel a little bit miffed that they did not get a ticket for the trip. But they should not be too disheartened.

There are 33 players on the plane to Baltimore for friendlies against Everton, Orlando City and Chelsea.

That is already a huge senior squad. There was simply not enough space to also then take another half dozen youngsters.

Those players would see verry little – if any – game time over the next 10 days.

Mikel Arteta would have focused his time on getting his senior players match fit for the new season. And with just one friendly between the America tour and the opening day, he is right to focus on the first team.

In the meantime, lets remember the academy played Hereford last night (winning 3-1). They also have pre-season friendlies against Slough and Bromley coming up.

These might not be glamour ties, but it is important that the academy gets match fit for the PL2 season and respective youth campaigns. They get that by playing games, not by sitting around watching the first team play.

Reuell Walters is an interesting one.

He would have been on very few peoples lips to have a break through season this year – Patino and Norton-Cuffy were my two to keep an eye on.

Just 17, he impressed against Nurnberg last week. He did not look out of place physically and with will travel with the squad as the 6th choice centre back.

The England under-18 international joined us in November 2020 from Tottenham. Since joining the club he has predominantly played at right back in the academy, but the feeling is he will move inside to centre back.

Enjoy your Thursday.



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