Arsenal goalkeeper Karl Hein has been promoted to the first-team squad, receiving senior squad number 31 for this season.
During Arsenal’s media day this week, young goalkeeper Karl Hein could be spotted wearing the number 31 shirt, indicating a first-team promotion.
For those unaware, Arsenal allocate numbers 1-35 to the senior squad, then they hand the numbers 36 and up to the u21s in alphabetical order, followed by the second-year scholars, then the first-year scholars.
As a result, Hein was handed the 49 shirt last season, but the switch to 31 means Arsenal now consider him as part of the senior squad.
This isn’t a surprise, as reports in mid-June suggested it was going to happen. The plan was reportedly always to loan out Arthur Okonkwo and promote Hein, after the club did the opposite last season.
Okonkwo has gone out to join Crewe Alexandra, whilst Hein is sticking around with the Arsenal first team.
Okonkwo is probably the goalkeeper more in need of a loan. He hasn’t had consistent minutes for a while, and he needs time to adapt to the pressures and challenges of senior football.
Hein already has that opportunity on a semi-regular basis with Estonia, for whom he often starts.
The 20-year-old made two appearances over the most recent international break, keeping a clean sheet against San Marino and saving a penalty against Malta.
Hein then appeared to pick up an injury in pre-season, as he wasn’t involved in training following the trip to Germany.
But when he’s back, Hein is expected to be Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper this season, with Runar Alex Runarsson going on loan.