• Wenger will call on youth team stars during the course of the season.
  • Wenger is backing Willock and Akpom to step up to first-team this season.

Arsene Wenger has identified four players who could make the step up this season from the Arsenal second string. The French manager believes Chris Willock, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chuba Akpom and Krystian Bielik could join the first-team during the course of the season after impressing with the reserve side.

The quartet were regulars with the U21 side last season and played a key role in helping Arsenal gain promotion to the top division, which has been rechristened Premier League 2 from this season onwards. The quartet were involved in the Gunners pre-season tour of the United States, Norway and Sweden and have impressed the manager with their performances on the pitch and during training.

Wenger tends to turn to the youth prospects at the club for clashes in the EFL Cup, as he prefers a mix of youth and experience, and it is likely Willock and company will get an outing when Arsenal take on Nottingham Forest in the League Cup on 20 September. Among the four, Reine-Adelaide and Akpom are the only ones who are part of the first-team with the Frenchman having being promoted earlier this summer. But owing to the size of Wenger's first-team squad and the midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order, he is likely to be more involved with the club's U23 side in Premier League 2 this season.

"We have a few who are had a very good pre-season like Chris Willock, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom," Wenger said ahead of Arsenal's clash against Watford on Saturday (27 August), as quoted on the Gunners' official site.

Chuba Akpom will be hoping to make inroads into the first-team this season after spending last season on loan at Hull City Getty

"They are the three who have been outstanding — Krystian Bielik as well has done extremely well. They could play," the French coach added.