Arsenal duo are flourishing on loan, says former Gunners striker

Boreham Wood manager Ian Allinson

Boreham Wood manager Ian Allinson - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

On the face of it, not much has changed for Arsenal’s young forward pair Austin Lipman and Anthony Jeffrey in recent weeks.

The players are still turning out in familiar surroundings – Meadow Park, where many of the Gunners’ youth team fixtures, including Champions League and FA Youth Cup ties, take place.

But the teenage duo have also been expanding their footballing education with loan spells at Meadow Park’s ‘other’ home team, Conference South strugglers Boreham Wood.

Wood’s manager, former Arsenal striker Ian Allinson, has no doubts that both his team and the youngsters themselves have benefited enormously from the arrangement, which runs until the beginning of January.

“From our point of view, we need players of that quality and both of them have come in, applied themselves and done exceptionally well,” said Allinson.

“It’s good for us that Arsenal have allowed the two of them to come here and that they trust us to look after the boys correctly.

“I think the big difference is the competitiveness of the games, because we are fighting for our lives at the moment. Then there’s also the physical side of the game – this is men’s football.

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“We’re helping to teach them when to move the ball and when not to move the ball, because at this level, if you do take too long on the ball, someone’s going to come in and tackle you.

“Without being disrespectful to Under-21 or Under-19 football, this is also about playing when there is actually quite a lot on the game – if we don’t pick up results quickly, it’s going to be a long, hard season.

“It’s important that they learn that side of the game, which is what they’re doing here.”

Lipman, 18, has been with Wood since October, scoring three goals, and featured in their run to the first round of the FA Cup, where they were only beaten by a last-minute goal in their replay at Carlisle.

Nineteen-year-old Jeffrey, who recently returned from a lengthy injury lay-off, netted his second goal in four games for Wood in their 1-1 draw at home to Weston-super-Mare last weekend.

Allinson is hoping to agree lengthier stays for Lipman and Jeffrey in the new year, although he accepts that Arsenal may have alternative plans for both youngsters.

“Once the transfer window opens in January, we’ll see what happens with both boys,” added the 56-year-old, who is best remembered for his role in taking Arsenal to the 1987 League Cup final at the expense of Tottenham.

“We’d be keen to keep them here, but it’s a case of whether Arsenal might want them to go somewhere else to get a better standard of football consistently.

“It’d be silly for them to go to a Football League side, sit on the bench and not be involved – they might as well stay at Arsenal and not play, or come here and play games.

“But both boys can put themselves in the shop window and, if they do consistently well here, a Football League side might decide they want to take them on loan.”

Whatever transpires with Lipman and Jeffrey, the Wood boss is confident that the close relationship with his old club will increase his chances of seeking further reinforcements later in the season, if required.

“Terry Burton and Liam Brady have been fantastic and, if we went back and asked them about players in other positions, I’m sure they’d help us,” added Allinson.

“The two clubs have a great affiliation. Our chairman’s been working extremely hard with Arsenal and, with our ground taking shape, we’re putting on a fantastic facility for them.”