Arsenal called up three members of their u23 squad to first-team training ahead of their weekend trip to Nottingham Forest.
Charlie Patino, Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand, and Omari Hutchinson could all be seen in Arsenal’s first-team training photos on Wednesday, as the squad prepare for their FA Cup away game against Nottingham Forest.
Patino and Oulad M’hand seem like they’re two of the closest u23s to the first-team squad this season.
There’s also some suggestion Granit Xhaka could be absent for Sunday’s match, which would open up a spot for one of them, likely Patino.
Patino obviously made his debut to good effect against Sunderland last month, whilst Oulad M’hand had already featured in a League Cup squad in the third round.
With Ainsley Maitland-Niles on his way to Rome, whilst Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are at AFCON, Arsenal are very light at central midfield right now, so the two of them have a good shot at making the squad to face Forest this weekend.
As for Hutchinson, he looks like one of the academy’s top talents, but he’s yet to play any part for the first team – other than a brief cameo appearance in pre-season, coming off the bench against Hibs.
But again, the current absences could help. Arsenal are without a right-wing backup to Bukayo Saka, given Nicolas Pepe is at AFCON. Their only option would be to pull players into the role from other positions, or promote from the academy.
As a left-footed right-winger who bears more than a few similarities to Saka, Hutchinson would be the man for the job if Mikel Arteta chooses the latter option.
Hutchinson has rarely shown any hesitance when promoted. He’s scored five goals and assisted six in 13 appearances for the u23s/u21s this season, his first campaign at that level.
Notably, the 18-year-old scored against Newport County and assisted against Ipswich Town in his only two appearances against senior opposition in the EFL Trophy.
My personal feeling is that Hutchinson would step up to the task if called upon, and an appearance on the bench this weekend would be great for his confidence.
For now, the u23 trio are simply taking part in training, which isn’t uncommon.