Premier League reserves: where kids on £300 a week mix with millionaires

10 October 2019 09:52
Héctor Bellerín played well for Arsenal Under-23s while returning from injury, but not every big star is a great exampleBy Gavin Willacy for Playing in the ShadowsMost of the Arsenal Under-23 team will have been unfazed by the thought of playing Liverpool at Meadow Park in Borehamwood in front of a crowd of 358. But a few of them may have been starstruck when they looked around and saw Héctor Bellerín in their defence. Bellerín’s appearance was unusual for two reasons. Star players returning from injury usually play for less than an hour and only do so in reserve games at the club’s own stadium. Bellerín played the full 90 minutes at a local non-league ground, setting up Arsenal’s second equaliser in a 2-2 draw.Lining up alongside an established international should help the young Arsenal players develop. However, star names often prove as much aggro as they are worth for Under-23s managers. One told me: “We get different first-team players every game and it’s always for the benefit of the first team – not us. I never know who I’m getting until the day before a game, or even later. Put it this way: I never write out my team until I get to the ground! If we’re playing away, unless it’s close or we’re playing at a decent stadium, I assume I won’t get any first-team players. But if we’re at home and there’s no first-team game for a while, I might get half a dozen.” Related: The Dutch model of developing young footballers: let them sink or swim Related: 'The public only see the highs': the reality of Premier League youth teams Continue readingreadfullarticle

Source: TheGuardian