Arthur Okonkwo joined first-team training again ahead of Arsenal’s match against Newcastle United on Monday, after making his u23 debut last week.

Arthur Okonkwo in first-team training in Dubai (via Instagram / _arthurokonkwo)
Arthur Okonkwo in first-team training in Dubai (via Instagram / _arthurokonkwo)

Okonkwo took Deyan Iliev’s place as third-choice goalkeeper on the trip to Dubai last week, taking part in the warm-weather training sessions and the club’s activities in the local area. When he returned, the 17-year-old had the chance to start his first ever game for the u23s, keeping a clean sheet against West Ham United.

To top off a good week, the young goalkeeper then got to join the first-team squad for training again over the weekend. He’s clearly held in high regard at the club, and helping the u23s to that rare clean sheet on Friday will only have helped his reputation. The side only managed two clean sheets in their previous nine league games.

Okonkwo has had to wait for his chances with the u23s, having sat on the bench 11 times this season before finally making his debut. Most likely, he’ll be back with the substitutes after Iliev makes his return, but given he’s seven years younger than his Macedonian counterpart, regular opportunities will come in the next season or two.

For now, it’s just good to see the teenager getting so much experience with the first team. Spending time with the likes of Petr Cech and Bernd Leno can only be a good thing for his career in the long term.