Arsenal and England forward Theo Walcott has encouraged young English players to go down into the Football League to gain first team experience.
Arsenal have loaned out a number of players to Championship clubs this summer including England youth internationals Isaac Hayden, Chuba Akpom (both at Hull City) and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Ipswich Town) while Dan Crowley is playing in League One with Barnsley.
Before signing for Arsenal in January 2006, Walcott was at Southampton and, though he was still just 16, played 23 times for the Saints while they were in the Championship before his move to north London.
“Maybe some English players are not getting opportunities, but it is important to go out and get experience in the lower leagues,” Walcott said.
“I was doing that when I was younger. It has worked well for me now. It is important to play football. We all play in the best league and people want to play.”
it has turned out pretty well for Theo, and Arsenal will be hoping to reap the rewards of sending more players out on loan to gain first team experience at a young age. The u21 league isn’t particularly challenging and young players want to be playing professional football, but the jump into the Premier League will be too much too soon for some.
It’s vital that these talented players get regular football at a level that tests them and Arsenal are making a clear effort to get their youngsters that football after a few season without anyone from the youth teams really making the grade at the club.
Arsène Wenger has spoken about the difficulties of young players stagnating this year, and will wholeheartedly agree with Walcott’s words.