Pre-Match Report

Under-21s: Arsenal v Bolton - Preview

The journey from the academy to Arsenal’s first team is a very difficult path to take. It can be even harder when you are a goalkeeper.

Arsene Wenger currently has two international goalkeepers and the promising Emiliano Martinez competing for the No 1 shirt, as well as five others progressing through the Gunners’ youth teams.

However, after Wojciech Szczesny’s suspension and David Ospina’s injury, it was Ryan Huddart who was called up to be Martinez’s understudy for Arsenal’s Champions League clashes with Anderlecht and Borussia Dortmund.

“Confidence-wise, that was massive,” Huddart told Arsenal.com. “To do it once was amazing, but to have the opportunity to do it twice this season was something that I would never have thought of. I’ve really enjoyed it so far and just want to keep going.

Ryan Huddart on the first-team bench

Ryan Huddart on the first-team bench

“Emi has been brilliant with me. I think that if you asked him, he’d probably say that I’ve been brilliant for him as well! We get on very well and he’s done ever so well this year to play in as many games as he has.

“At one stage, we were both in the academy together. I’ve known him for three years in the academy and we’ve both ended up together with the first team. He’s done well in the games that he’s played, keeping clean sheets and playing very well.”

Emiliano Martinez

Emiliano Martinez

This campaign has been a turning point for Huddart - and not just because he's tasted life in the first-team squad.

"I’m making more saves and fewer mistakes. I think I’m calmer and more composed now"

Ryan Huddart

The 17-year-old has shared under-18s goalkeeping duties with Hugo Keto, produced solid performances for the under-19s in the Youth League and is now competing with Matt Macey for the under-21s, who host Bolton Wanderers at Boreham Wood on Monday.

“I feel a lot more experienced this year,” explained Huddart. “I’m making more saves and fewer mistakes. I think I’m calmer and more composed now, and that was always there, but it was just the confidence that I needed to build. I can’t fault myself this year, but I need to keep going.”

Entrance to Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park is free for Arsenal youth games and live updates will be on the @Arsenal Twitter feed from 6.55pm (UK time).

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