Patience can often be key for young footballers and that is certainly true in the case of Charlie Gilmour.
Having spent a significant part of his first year as a full-time player on the sidelines with injury, Gilmour was a regular for Arsenal U18s last campaign but, no longer eligible for that age group, this season he is only permitted to play for the U23s and above.
Despite a host of departures in the summer, Arsenal still have many players to call upon at U23 level, with Gilmour not even making the bench on a couple of occasions this season.
That changed on Monday night, however, as, with several prospects rested ahead of first-team involvement, Gilmour made his competitive debut for Arsenal U23s away to Everton.
The initial signs were encouraging as the midfielder, a graduate of Arsenal’s Hale End academy, played some slick passes and helped to initiate several of his team’s attacking moves.
However, in the second half Gilmour, who was already on a yellow card, was sent off for a second bookable offence in controversial circumstances as he was penalised for a high foot when he didn’t actually catch his opponent and was going for the ball.
Gilmour was dismissed and is now suspended for Arsenal’s next U23 game at home to Sunderland, which will be played at Emirates Stadium.
The 18-year-old’s frustration quickly turned to elation, though, as he was selected to train with the Arsenal first-team squad at London Colney on Wednesday morning.
After impressing in that session Gilmour was chosen as one of several youngsters to make the trip to Belarus for yesterday’s Europa League encounter against BATE Borisov.
Although he didn’t make it onto the pitch, Gilmour will surely have gained much from the experience of travelling with the first-team and has been provided with a glimpse of what the future could hold for him.
Despite him being a talented player Gilmour’s call-up came as something of a surprise given his aforementioned lack of experience of U23 football.
Arsene Wenger certainly seems impressed by him, though, and the Frenchman mentioned this week that Gilmour could become the latest Arsenal youngster to be converted into a defender despite the Scotland youth international having been deployed almost exclusively as a midfielder in his development so far.
Gilmour’s passing is his main attribute but he is also capable of making precisely-timed challenges. His tactical understanding of the game in a defensive sense still requires work but he definitely has much potential.
Once described by Liam Brady as Arsenal’s best schoolboy, Gilmour has had a memorable and eventful week. Now he will be looking to learn from those experiences and fully establish himself in the U23 team.