Five Arsenal academy players received new first-team numbers in training this week, as we approach the end of the current campaign.

Matt Smith (Photo via Instagram)
Matt Smith (Photo via Instagram)

In their final training session ahead of the trip to Southampton on Wednesday, five Arsenal academy players were wearing new shirt numbers with the senior side.

Harry Clarke (previously 42) was wearing the 40 shirt. James Hillson went from 63 to 45, Zech Medley from 49 to 52, Matt Smith from 57 to 58 and Zak Swanson from 59 to 60.

As Jeorge Bird points out in his post on the subject, these are all still u23 numbers. There’s no indication of Arsenal promoting these players to the first-team just yet. It could happen later, as it did with Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and co. last year.

For those who aren’t aware, the first-team get numbers 1 to 35 to choose from. After that, Arsenal allocate 36 onwards to u23 players. Then the second-year scholars from 68 onwards, then the first-year scholars, all in alphabetical order on their last names.

So all the number change really means is that the five players above are in a different position in the alphabetical order thanks to other youngsters leaving and joining the u23 group.

That’s other than James Hillson, who had such a high number because he signed on after the other numbers were already allocated. Obviously he didn’t previously get the number 63 because of a last name beginning with ‘H’.

Regardless of their numbers, it’s nice to see so many young players involved with the first team right now.