Arsenal to fast-track 14-year-old wonderkid into under-18s after special Jack Wilshere praise

Max Dowman is set to be with the Arsenal Under 18s on a permanent basis this season
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Arsenal are set to put 14-year-old sensation Max Dowman on the under-18s programme this season after impressing at the back end of the season. He scored twice and added five assists in seven appearances for Jack Wilshere's side in the U18 Premier League last campaign.

Dowman, predominately a right winger who can play anywhere across the forward line, started the final three matches of the season and netted the second goal in a 5-2 win over Chelsea on the final day. He is certainly one to watch for the future, and now the England Under-16 international is expected to be handed a more prominent opportunity to impress in an age group three years above his own.

According to The Secret Scout, Dowman will be part of the U18s on a permanent basis heading into the 2024/25 campaign. He will now be at London Colney, where the first-team are based. Arsenal are said to be keen to show a pathway for him, despite not yet turning 15 until December 31.

Arsenal U18s boss Wilshere hailed special praise on Dowman back in March after he contributed with three assists during a thumping 5-2 victory over Fulham. "There's always a concern when fielding such a young player in these matches, but if you're good enough, you're old enough," Wilshere told club media. "He can be more consistent, but he's only 14 and hasn't even started his GCSEs yet.

"We need to find a balance of letting him play and enjoy the game because of his age but also trying to get as much work into him as we can. Hopefully, we can fast-track him and when he goes over to the first team he'll be more ready. I really enjoyed the performance."

Dowman made his debut for the England U16s side against Saudi Arabia in February and has since made four further appearances for that age group. He started both matches - a win against Italy and a defeat to Belgium - last June and is expected to be handed more chances to impress for his country.

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The Gunners have a rich history of giving academy graduates a chance in the senior set-up. Ethan Nwaneri made his Premier League debut against Brentford in September 2022, becoming the youngest ever Arsenal player and the youngest player to appear in the top flight of English football, aged just 15.

Nwaneri has since made one other appearance for the Gunners, coming from the bench during a 6-0 victory over West Ham in February. He is one of several players to come from through the academy system, including Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka.