Six Arsenal academy stars who could get chance in Europa League

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Arsenal’s squad is set to be stretched to the maximum in the coming weeks. Injuries mean Mikel Arteta may have to call upon some of the club’s academy players in the Europa League especially.

Arsenal did not have European football last season so were just able to manage with a relatively small group of first-team players. However, their fixture schedule is set to be more congested than they are used to.

The World Cup in November means more midweek Premier League games, while the Europa League starts this Thursday, with the Gunners away to FZ Zurich. Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey and Reiss Nelson are all injured, while Emile Smith Rowe caused fresh concern after limping out of the warm down following Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Manchester United.

After failing to bring in a midfielder late in the transfer window, Arteta hinted he would have to use academy players to fill his match day squad. With several first-team stars likely to be rested for European competition, Express Sport picks six youngsters who could feature in the next couple of months.

Matt Smith

Smith is a midfielder who has made 84 senior appearances in loan spells at Swindon, Charlton and Doncaster. He was in the squad for the 2-1 win over Aston Villa last Wednesday.

At 21, he is the oldest of the six players Arteta may consider and has been included in the senior squad list for the Europa League. He featured in pre-season and has trained numerous times with the first team.

Jack Henry-Francis

Eighteen-year-old Henry-Francis is also a midfielder. He captained the under-21 side and scored in their 4-1 win over Blackburn at the weekend.

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Ben Cottrell

Cottrell, 20, has already made his debut for the first team. He came on as a substitute in the Europa League win in Dundalk in December 2020.

The central midfielder missed a large chunk of last season due to injury. The ex-England under 18 international is yet to play this term, which may put his chances of featuring in doubt.

Zach Awe

Awe is a central defender and could earn a chance in the first-team squad if Arteta wants to rest the likes of William Saliba, Ben White and Gabriel. He was on the bench for the 1-0 win at Wolves in February but is yet to make his senior bow.

Mauro Bandeira

A Portuguese midfielder, Bandeira signed his first professional contract with Arsenal in July. The former QPR youngster has been a regular so far for the under-21 side this season.

Catalin Cirjan

Cirjan signed a new contract with Arsenal in May. The Romanian midfielder trained with the first team on Saturday in the build up to the trip to Old Trafford.

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