By Joe Brewin
Soon it will be all-change for Neil Banfield’s Reserves.
The turn of the year is fast approaching - a time that usually signals a wave of loan departures from Banfield’s ever-successful set-up.
Luke Freeman was the first of this year’s crop to seek first-team experience elsewhere, joining League One outfit Stevenage on an initial two-month loan earlier this week. The young striker won’t be the last, according to Banfield.
“I think now what we'll see is the loan transfer of some players that have been here a year or so,” he told Arsenal.com. “We'll then see some of the next generation that are coming through to let them have just over a year at Reserves level.
“Usually there are around five or six overall. We've got Josh Rees and Zak Ansah who have already been involved, along with the likes of Martin Angha who is a second year now and has had a good start.
“There's a few ready to come in now and I think around Christmas time we'll start to see the picture change. Over the next couple of weeks we'll try and integrate the next batch.”
Arsenal travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Reserve League South on Tuesday night, looking to build on an impressive start to the campaign that has seen them suffer just one defeat in eight matches.
That came at the hands of a vastly-experienced West Brom side - but Banfield’s youngsters have since recovered with back-to-back victories at home.
“Hopefully we can just continue with the run we've been going on recently,” the manager said. “It'll be a tough game at Wolves but everybody is looking forward to it.
“We've had a couple of good home wins in the last few games and I've been really happy with the way we've played.
“Whenever we go to Wolves we've had good games there. They're a positive side that look to try and play football. We're expecting the same again on Tuesday. They've had a couple of good wins and we're going up there with the expectations of a really tough game. It should be a good one too.”
Last season’s two games against Wolves were both closely contested, including a 2-2 draw in tonight’s corresponding fixture. Conor Henderson and Freeman were the goalscorers on the night to cap an impressive comeback in Telford.
Banfield’s young Gunners will be keen to hit the ground running once more in the Midlands, spurred on by a true feel-good factor at London Colney.
“Things are going well, there’s a buzz around the place at the minute,” Banfield said. “I think the Reserves side is the vehicle to the players to try and show what they can do for the first team. Yes we want to win but the results are not the be all and end all of it.
“It's more about the performances of the players for their development programme to try and get into that first team. But of course, you always want to win every game you're playing.”
Ansah is set to be handed his first start as part of a three-pronged attack for Arsenal, accompanied by Jernade Meade and the free-scoring Sanchez Watt.
Daniel Boateng is available with his suspension having not yet begun, and will line up alongside the experienced Sebastien Squillaci at the heart of Arsenal’s defence.
Arsenal.com will bring you live text commentary from the game and match highlights will be available 'on demand' from Wednesday afternoon on Arsenal Player.
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