On Injuries and Youth Opportunities

The international break begins in earnest – I don’t where Ernest is but he’d better brace himself for it – with Alexandre Lacazette enjoying what may be the shortest international call-up on record. About three hours after he’d been called into the French squad to cover withdrawals, he himself withdrew. There’s a Catholic joke in there to be made but I’m too bunged up with cold to make it.

Anyway, so there’s one less injury to worry about in the next fortnight. Although anything can happen at any time so I’m not tempting fate by claiming he can’t get injured. No…

Which loosely segues into Danny Welbeck’s ankle. He’s undergone a second surgery which the club said was “planned”. Both operations went well and he’s eating plenty of jelly and ice cream in hospital. How long he is out for is anyone’s guess and nobody’s been brave enough to have a go yet.

It’s opened the door for Eddie Nketiah, according to Unai Emery, for the lesser competitions but in the Premier League, it’s a case of more playing time for Iwobi and Mkhitaryan over the course of the season. Or until January, depending on how Unai Emery assesses our needs.

Finding the balance on promoting youth is tough. No manager gets it right every single time, just as not every signing is perfect. With so few young players making the grade at a top-flight club, it’s hard to call for patience particularly when they themselves are eager for their chance. 

Nketiah left Chelsea because he felt Arsenal presented a better opportunity for first-team football and we’ve lost players from our academy as well in similar circumstances. I hope Nketiah takes this opportunity although some people’s expectations are a little high, to say the least.

A Difficult Case

One who bore those expectations previously was Daniel Crowley. There’s an interesting and honest assessment of his career, as well as life in the Dutch league.

He freely admits his desire to play made him difficult to handle.

I started to fall out with people because I wasn’t playing. I was getting on the gaffer’s nerves and he just said ‘You have got to go’.

[Lower league players] might not be the best technically but they are a lot more experienced and they know how to win games.

With focus on Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson breaking records for Hoffenheim, the question of whether more players should move abroad is on the agenda.

It’s good for their careers if things work out. Crowley dropped into the second tier to keep on playing, before returning to the top flight this season. Is it good for their international careers? It’s hard to miss players like Sancho and Nelson because of media attention.

However, Crowley seems to be the forgotten man, particularly given his prodigious talent. Despite appearing for England at youth levels, he’s keen to represent Ireland. No call yet from Martin O’Neill or Noel King yet.

Therein is the rub. The parochial nature of English football and the media coverage in the lower levels of the tabloids, focuses on the names; the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga. Money leads the way and the media follow.

The likes of Crowley are reliant upon sporadic reporting and initiative from national team coaches. Which judging by the squad selected by Gareth Southgate is in short supply.

Crowley is scathing about football in England:

This is the problem for English youngsters: where do you take the next step?

Under-23s football is not competitive enough, there are no fans and you are not playing for anything.

The Young Ones

It’s a problem for which there is no easy solution. Entering the Checkatrade Trophy is all well and good but when the likes of Coventry field a lot of reserves, the point is lost somewhat.

I don’t know what the answer is. You can’t ‘test out’ a few under-23s in the Football League – although if 15 Championship clubs continue to greedily assert they deserve more television cash, there’s an opening. That’s a seismic change in English football, not a ‘try and buy’ scenario.

Maybe the time has come to insist each Premier League subs bench includes three Under-23 players? Or maybe more to ensure the best are used? We shall see.

’til Tomorrow.


14 thoughts on “On Injuries and Youth Opportunities

  1. I actually don’t mind Nketiah as iur CF3 as that allows him to develop behind 2 top 10 CFs. He will also get to play in the Cups and in, at least, 2 group stage matches in the Europa. Think it will also allow him time in the PL too through rotation as we get further into the Europa League knockout rounds.

  2. Homegrown talent is massively over-priced. The big clubs have signed up the prospective talent from a very young age and the ones they miss they will pay daft prices for. Much easier to buy the finished product from abroad.

    How many English players have broken into the first team in the last 10 years? I can think of 2: Wilshere and Iwobi (Nigeria of course – England will rue that one)

  3. YW,

    He could play in the last 2 group stage matches and in the PL possibly once the Europa knockout stages start should we face a lower table PL side. There will need to be a bit of rotation or Nketiah could come on as a sub late in matches.

  4. Pete the Thirst,

    Maitland-Niles, technically Nelson.

    I mean, how many English players have made it anywhere. I think it speaks more to the young talent of other countries surpassing that of thr English players despite some good showings in the U18s and U21s World Cups.

    What will be interesting to watch is players like Holding, Sancho, Nelson, Foden and that lot of young players will be treated by England as they all are coming good at their respective clubs.

  5. > Homegrown talent is massively over-priced

    That’s what we’ve found in the transfer market apparently.

    We’re not doing well on that front ourselves. Wilshere (free), Ramsey (free), Welbeck (free); just three players if we’d bitten the bullet earlier that we might have received fees on. Benefit of hindsight and all that.

  6. YW,

    Thorny issues eh. What to do with Injured players? Sign em up in the hope that they regain form long enough ,and at the right time to flog off. Or nurse them thru, and hope that they gin up again once they’ve recovered. Or avoid the risk of being shackled with a dog( sorry jack the wolf) .
    You touched on this yourself re Danny last week.
    There’s never a good time to get injured for a player, but there are times that hamstring both player and club. Especially, when they happen recurrently. 🙉

  7. C,

    I hope Eddie gets a couple of chances to shine. Youthful exeburance, a trick or two and an electric turn of pace is just what we need. Can he deliver? In it to win it ,innit?
    That’s why I thought taking Iwobi off was a mistake, tho he wasn’t shining bright. He still had Defenders second guessing. Rambo, tries a trick too tbf…Showboating I’m informed! , but when teams have solid organised efensive systems , you need a bit of magic to create uncertainty . Pass pass pass,doesn’t do it in these circs..unless it’s lightening quick and perfect. We haven’t been for a few seasons now sadly.

  8. While some of the local-born players have managed to get a chance (Holding, Chambers, Iwobi, AMN) a lot more have not. If Nketiah left Chelsea because of not getting chances, how long will he remain at Arsenal at the current rate? Is it a dearth of talent in the EPL or is it a case of clubs not developing them? Certainly, Wenger didn’t do much to develop home-grown talent. And, as a result, nature abhorring a vacuum, and all that, they tended to regress. At best, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain plateaued. Why have the cost of an Academy if the product doesn’t reach the top level? On the other hand, trying to compete with sheikhs and oligarchs for high-priced foreign talent when your resources are limited doesn’t seem a good bet, either.
    What the club does with all this will be interesting to see.

  9. The injury to Welbeck is very unfortunate for Arsenal.

    It poses a huge conundrum for Emery going forward. Does he start with both PEA and Lacazette? If he does decide to go down that route who comes In to replace either should they be below form.

    We have to be realistic in that EDDIE N is just a kid in football terms with no true PL experience.

    Ac I look around the squad I’m concerned as to where goals are going to come from. Beyond the obvious to strikers who else has scored 7-10 a season at Arsenal ? Ozil, Iwobi, Miki, Ramsey etc average how many per season?

    I’ve obviously no idea if Arsenal are thinking of going and out and replacing Welbeck however I think Emery is going to have seriously playing with 2 striker be it Laca or PEA.

    Either striker has strengths and weakness. Laca is more adapt into bringing other players into the Game. PEA is different his input is in the final third. The Sead deal had not worked lets. W frank and honest. He can’t defend very Well. If you have a fit Nacho and Iwobi that takes care of the left side. Wolves got most of their success down that side.

    Emery has the break to work on things

    On Saturday the combination of Sead and PEA on the left did not work at all.

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