Often touted as one of the players capable of making the step up to the Arsenal first team in the past, Ben Cottrell’s opportunities on that front have suffered due to his recent fitness record.
Back in the 2020/21 campaign, Cottrell was a regular starter for the Arsenal academy, and his form earned him a first-team debut against Dundalk in the Europa League.
But an injury setback at the end of February 2021 brought the midfielder’s season to an early end, and it kickstarted a tough couple of years for the youngster.
Cottrell initially returned to action in August 2021, but he was quickly back on the treatment table. Then he made another comeback in January 2022, only to be ruled out for another year.
Things finally seem to be looking up now, with the 21-year-old starting regularly for the u21s again, and directly contributing to five goals in his last three games (three goals, two assists).
U21 boss Mehmet Ali is clearly pleased with Cottrell’s progress, but he admits the England youth international needs to start playing senior football now.
“Ben needs to go out and play men’s football,” Ali said (via Arsenal Youth).
“Having said that he’s had a really tough two seasons – the last two seasons have been very difficult.
“I feel that as a group of staff, we’ve really supported him. But credit to Ben to get his head down, support the younger players, and put in some of the performances that he’s put on.
“Hopefully he’s done enough to showcase him to go and get an opportunity to play men’s football, which is what he needs.”
Now that he’s seemingly over his injury troubles, Cottrell’s talent should be catching the eye. Whether on loan or a permanent deal, the creative midfielder should be in line for the next step of his career.
The Arsenal u21s face Premier League 2 champions Manchester City this weekend, giving Cottrell one more chance to make an impression before the summer gets underway in earnest.