By Giuseppe Muro

While Arsenal’s senior goalkeepers battle it out to be the Club’s No 1, young goalkeeper Reice Charles-Cook is quietly continuing his progress in the youth ranks.

The 17-year-old has been at Arsenal since the age of seven and, after graduating from the Hale End Academy last summer, has shown signs that he is developing into another first-rate keeper within the Club.

Charles-Cook, who prides himself on his shot-stopping ability, made his first appearance outside of youth football against Hastings United on Tuesday night and demonstrated his sharp reflexes with a fine one-handed save in the opening minute.

Some youngsters might be downhearted by the wealth of quality in front of them but Charles-Cook feels he is surrounded by the best people to help him achieve his goals.

“There are loads of great goalkeepers here and I want to aim for their level and surpass them,” he told “I see that more as an inspiration to try and work to their level.

“We’ve got Wojciech, Vito, Manuel and Lukasz, not to mention Sean [McDermott] and Damian [Martinez]. I train with [the senior goalkeepers] a lot, I speak to them a lot and they give me hints and tips which is a great thing.

“I couldn’t ask for much more, they aren’t selfish, they teach me things and tell me things to work on. It’s a very tight-knit group.

“The coaching staff here are brilliant as well. I work with Gerry Peyton, Lee Smelt and Tony Roberts - three very good coaches. Obviously Gerry works with the first team, so we don’t see much of him, but he will try and watch us on a Saturday if the first team don’t have a game.”

Charles-Cook was delighted with his positive start to life in the men’s game and is hoping to continue in goal when an Arsenal XI travel to Stevenage for another pre-season fixture on Saturday.

The keeper made inroads into Steve Bould’s Academy side last term and wants to challenge for the Under-18s’ No 1 jersey this season, though he knows there will be strong competition from Sean McDermott.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better debut against Hastings, I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” said Charles-Cook.

“I only got five games last season, I’ve got a late birthday and we had Sean and Damian, so obviously I have to wait for my time and I was very happy to get those games under my belt.

“The increase in tempo from Under-16s to Under-18s was very quick and that was a shock. I think my best game last year was against Tottenham, that is when I really got into it and felt comfortable with the level of the game. Hopefully I can get more games this season.”

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21 Jul 2011