Arsenal’s lower league loanees hardly featured at all this weekend, as quite a few of them struggle for minutes.

Miguel Azeez playing for Portsmouth (Photo via Azeez on Twitter)
Miguel Azeez playing for Portsmouth (Photo via Azeez on Twitter)

Arsenal have seven players out on loan with lower league clubs right now, but for a myriad of reasons, only one of them played on Saturday.

The main concern right now is a few injury problems.

Jordi Osei-Tutu (Nottingham Forest) is currently back with Arsenal working on a hamstring injury, so he missed their trip to Reading. He last played in mid-August.

Tom Smith (Welling United) has been out recovering from a dislocated shoulder since early October, with Welling signing an emergency replacement in his absence.

Tyreece John-Jules’ (Blackpool) situation is unclear, with no official word on whether he’s injured. Arsenal Youth writer Jeorge Bird says that he is, whilst Blackpool Gazette writer Matt Scrafton believes he isn’t.

Whether he’s dropped out through injury or not, John-Jules wasn’t in the squad on Saturday and hasn’t been in over a month.

With Miguel Azeez (Portsmouth) and Jonathan Dinzeyi (Carlisle United), it’s simpler. Neither are injured, as both were in the squad on Saturday. They just didn’t make the starting lineup and didn’t come off the bench.

Matt Smith (Doncaster Rovers) had a much more temporary absence on Saturday, as he was suspended through an accumulation of yellow cards.

Matt Smith after signing for Doncaster Rovers (Photo via Doncaster Rovers on Twitter)
Matt Smith after signing for Doncaster Rovers (Photo via Doncaster Rovers on Twitter)

Smith has generally been a starter in Doncaster and should return to the team next week.

That leaves us with the one Arsenal lower league loanee who did play on Saturday, Daniel Ballard (Millwall). Returning from his international injury absence, Ballard played 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw away to Middlesbrough.

Even if there are explanations in each individual case, the overall picture is a bit worrying. A weekend where only one Arsenal loanee plays in the English lower divisions feels like a waste.

For the time being, we can only wait and hope things change before January. Otherwise, decisions will have to be made.

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