Academy Irish: Arsenal Youth
In the first edition of another new series at GreenScene, we’re previewing the future of Ireland and the future of Premier League and Championship football by looking at all the Irish youth players playing in this season’s Premier Academy League. There’s forty teams in all, with the teams divided geographically into four groups of ten. The winner of each group then goes on to the Academy Semi-Finals and then on to the final. We’re starting with Group A, and alphabetically, the team that comes first is none other than Arsenal, the winner last season, and thus the favourites for the 2010-11 Premier Academy League.
17 year old Goalkeeper Sean McDermott has had a more unusual back story than most young Ireland players. Born in Kristiansand in Norway, playing for local side IK Våg before signing for Arsenal. There was plenty of interest in the keeper, and chose Arsenal ahead of Tottenham and other Premier League sides: “The facilities, coaches and the environment at Arsenal is what made me want to go there. This is what I’ve always dreamed about.” He made 12 first team appearances for Arsenal under-18s last year as they won the Academy League, and signed a professional contract with the club in June.
Ben Glasgow, 16, has yet to really make his mark for Arsenal under-18s, having only played one game last season. However, the right-back’s performances for the under-16s side have been impressive, and much is expected of the quick defender when he moves up to the next level. Although he’s a Londoner through-and-through, Glasgow qualifies to play for Ireland via his parents, and has represented the Irish under-16s. He does have a bit opposition for the right back position at Arsenal, but we should still expect him to start in a good few of their Academy games this season.
Another London born young Gunner, Steve Smith, 16, is a central defender, who has also played as a left back and a left midfielder for the Arsenal youth side. He represented Ireland at under-16 level, Smith is a solid, strong defender. The sixteen year old is very versatile, and even scored twice for Arsenal u16s playing against West Ham in left midfield last season. Smith is also a good leader, having captained Arsenal’s under-16 side on numerous occasions last year.
Seventeen-year-old Webb is another of Arsenal’s Irish London-born youngsters. A holding midfielder, he lined out for the under-18s four times last season, and will be looking to play the full 90 minutes more often this year. He has also represented the Republic of Ireland. He’s an energetic midfielder, who has a knack for playing important through balls.
A summer signing for the Arsenal Academy, sixteen-year-old Roberts has already gotten off the mark for the club, scoring against Sunderland at the end of August. The centre forward was signed from Norwich, and is expected to be a strong addition to Liam Brady’s Arsenal Academy. He’s already played for Ireland, kitting out for the under-16s last year.