Teenager joins Arsenal 1st team squad after Leno injury

BARNET, ENGLAND - JULY 24: James Hillson of Arsenal in action during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Barnet and Arsenal at The Hive on July 24, 2019 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
BARNET, ENGLAND - JULY 24: James Hillson of Arsenal in action during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Barnet and Arsenal at The Hive on July 24, 2019 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)

Arsenal youth goalkeeper James Hillson is training with the first-team after Bernd Leno’s injury, looking likely to slot into the third-choice spot.

BARNET, ENGLAND - JULY 24: James Hillson of Arsenal celebrates his sides first goal during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Barnet and Arsenal at The Hive on July 24, 2019 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
BARNET, ENGLAND: James Hillson of Arsenal celebrates his side’s first goal on July 24, 2019. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)

Per today’s training footage, James Hillson trained with the Arsenal first-team ahead of the trip to Southampton on Thursday.

There’s little doubt Emi Martinez will start the match, with Matt Macey the most likely to make the bench. However, it does look like James Hillson is the third-choice senior goalkeeper right now.

This is partly due to some fortunate circumstances for the youngster. Dejan Iliev is still out on loan, fellow youth option Arthur Okonkwo is only just back from a long spell out and first-choice u23 goalkeeper this season Karl Hein is back home in Estonia.

So despite only making four appearances in the youth leagues this season, Hillson is suddenly the next in line.

That isn’t to say Arsenal don’t rate the young goalkeeper. Just five weeks ago he signed a contract extension with the club, so they’re clearly happy with his progress. It’s just a bit of a surprising opportunity for him at this stage.

These things happen in football, and it’s just about taking your chance when it falls to you. Regardless of whether he gets any game-time, Hillson can certainly use these next few weeks for the experience.