Emile Smith Rowe took another step towards recovery from injury playing 71 minutes for the u23s against Blackburn Rovers on Friday.
Smith Rowe has struggled with injuries again in the early part of this season.
After making the first-team squad for the Community Shield, he picked up a shoulder injury ruling him out for a month and a half. He returned to face Manchester United u23s on October 17th, before seemingly suffering another setback.
The plan was to play the youngster against Dundalk and Molde in the last week or so, but his fitness levels still weren’t quite there. Instead, he travelled to Blackburn Rovers to build his sharpness with the u23s.
The good news is that everything seemed to go well this time. Unlike the United u23 match, where he came off at half-time, Smith Rowe completed 71 minutes this time around. Even better, he scored twice.
If anything, Smith Rowe should have had a hat-trick on the night. Balogun sent him through on goal with a backheel early on and the 20-year-old shot over the bar with his left foot. It was the one opportunity he probably should’ve done better with.
But the 20-year-old made no mistake with his other two chances, helping Arsenal on the way to a 6-0 win. The first was a tap-in after a square ball from Balogun, the second another close-range effort through the goalkeeper’s legs with his left.
The youngster spent most of his time drifting in from the right, without a real set position. He didn’t have a huge influence on the general play in that role but clearly found himself in some good positions to score.
Smith Rowe recently reiterated his long-term desire to be an Arsenal legend, as a boyhood fan of the club. Mikel Arteta appears to rate him highly, but he just has to get fit enough to play senior matches now. Let’s hope he’s ready for the Molde away game.