Second Arsenal academy star given senior international call-up

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 04: Deyan Iliev of Arsenal awaits the referees decision during the Premier League 2 match between Arsenal and West Ham at Meadow Park on February 04, 2019 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Deyan Iliev has become the second member of Arsenal’s academy to receive a call-up for his country’s senior side before appearing for the Gunners’ first-team.

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: Deyan Iliev of Arsenal during the Premier League 2 match between Arsenal and Swansea at Meadow Park on March 04, 2019 in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND – MARCH 04: Deyan Iliev of Arsenal during the Premier League 2 match between Arsenal and Swansea at Meadow Park on March 04, 2019, in Borehamwood, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, academy defender Daniel Ballard was called up to the Northern Ireland senior squad for their Euro 2020 qualifiers against Estonia and Belarus. Now, another member of the u23 squad has received an international call-up, with Iliev getting the chance to join Macedonia for their matches against Latvia and Slovenia.

Though he still plays for the u23s, Iliev is actually 24 years old. As a goalkeeper, he can continue playing for the u23 side for as long as Arsenal want him there, but the main reason he’s still playing for the youth side is that he spent two years out with an injury between 2015 and 2017.

As a result, this is Iliev’s first season back playing every week again. Success has been mixed, with Arsenal only narrowly scoring more goals than they’ve conceded this campaign. However, the goalkeeper is in good form right now, keeping two clean sheets in his last three games against Tottenham and Premier League 2 leaders Everton.

Stole Dimitrevski of Rayo Vallecano is still Macedonia’s first-choice goalkeeper, but manager Igor Angelovski says he hasn’t decided whether Iliev or Shishkovski will be next in line if there’s an injury or red card. Hopefully, the Arsenal man can impress his national manager and secure that backup spot regularly.