It has been a rather strange season for Ryan Huddart.
Having amassed plenty of experience of playing for Arsenal at various youth levels, the talented goalkeeper was sent out on loan to National League side Eastleigh ahead of this campaign.
Huddart showcased his impressive reflexes during his spell at Eastleigh but saw his playing time limited as he featured just seven times for his temporary club, prompting Arsenal to exercise their option to re-call him in January.
Since then, Huddart has been an un-used substitute on two occasions for Arsenal’s U23 side, which would ordinarily suggest that he has fallen down the pecking order somewhat, especially given that Hugo Keto, who is younger than him, was preferred on one occasion.
However, there is evidence that indicates that Huddart may well still have a future at Arsenal as the erstwhile England youth international, who turned 20 this week, has trained with the first-team squad on several occasions recently, including today.
Occasionally youngsters are chosen to train with the senior team just to make up the numbers when first-team players are out, but in this case it appears that Arsene Wenger is assessing Huddart to determine what the next step should be in his development.
Eastleigh seemed a rather peculiar selection for Huddart to experience his first loan spell and, given his talent, it was even stranger that he wasn’t used regularly. Another temporary stint elsewhere would be of great benefit to Huddart, but that can’t happen until next season and if it does the choice of club would have to be smarter on this occasion.
Having been named on the bench for Arsenal in two Champions League games against Anderlecht as a 17-year-old, Huddart has yet to earn a subsequent call-up to the squad. He is determined to prove, however, that he is still capable of making the cut at Arsenal and his performances in training will go a long way towards determining whether he can achieve that aim.
The problem that Huddart faces, though, is that Arsenal have an abundance of young goalkeepers on their books. Matt Macey (who is currently on loan at Luton Town), Keto, Deyan Iliev (who has been out since early last season through injury), Joao Virginia and Alex Crean are all eager to make the breakthrough, but Huddart is hoping that his opportunity is still to come.