Dan Crowley believes that his loan spell with Oxford United has helped him work harder, something he didn’t really have to do at Arsenal.

The 19-year-old is currently on loan at the League One side and has made 10 appearances in all competitions so far. He’s got three goals and two assists, which, considering his age and time on the pitch, isn’t bad at all.

However, as we all know, loan spells aren’t just about getting minutes under belts and scoring goals. They’re about gaining experience, learning about competition and maturing as a player.

This is exactly what Crowley appears to be doing.

“The Gaffer had me in his plans all the time but just not straight away for certain reasons, so he has made me work for it, which I’ve never really had to do, so that has been good for me,” he said to the club’s official programme.

“Now it means more to me so I’ll do anything to keep myself in the team.

“I’ve never had to work as hard as I have at Oxford. At [Aston] Villa as a kid I was always in the team, same at Arsenal. I was around quality players at Arsenal but was always going to play. I still have that belief in myself but coming here has helped me realise that no matter how much ability you might have have you still have to work for it.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 15: Itsuki Urata of Japan and Dan Crowley of England compete for the ball during the U19 International friendly match between England and Japan at Manchester City Academy Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 15: Itsuki Urata of Japan and Dan Crowley of England compete for the ball during the U19 International friendly match between England and Japan at Manchester City Academy Stadium on November 15, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

“It was never about realising there was a good players here, that was obvious. It was more about the penny dropping about my own game. It was realising I needed to work out how to be effective in the game. To do it at this level is harder than when you are playing in the Arsenal set up.

“This is competitive every game and I am surrounded by players who have played for a lot longer than me and who know how to win games, keep a win, work for a draw if you need to. I’ve never experienced that so I’m going to to keep on working and keep learning.”

Crowley is a highly rated youngster so it’s no real surprise that he found it easy to get into Arsenal’s youth team’s starting XI. Since signing from Aston Villa in 2014, he’s made 36 appearances for our u23s and 11 for the u19s.

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A League One first team is obviously another kettle of fish and a challenge that I’m glad the youngster is ready to rise to.