New Wrexham goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo was left unhappy by his debut performance with the Red Dragons, despite managing a clean sheet in a narrow 1-0 EFL Trophy win over Newcastle United U21’s, in comments given to The Leader Live.
Okonkwo signed from Arsenal on loan late into the transfer window, Wrexham needing goalkeeper reinforcements after Ben Foster decided to hang up his gloves a matter of games into the new League Two campaign.
Everyone involved with Wrexham will hope that Okonkwo’s signing means that the Red Dragons won’t be as leaky as they have been in recent League Two competitions, the Welsh side conceding 14 goals so far in League Two after only six matches played.
Early signs suggest that the 21-year-old could be a star on loan, keeping a clean sheet on his debut.
But, the five-time England U18 international has high standards for himself and wants to impress even further despite showing glimpses of his quality in the EFL Trophy.
Who Is Arthur Okonkwo?
The 21-year-old joined the Arsenal academy when he was just eight years of age, rising through the ranks ever since.
He has managed 32 appearances for both the U18’s and the U21’s with the Gunners to date, keeping 10 clean sheets along the way.
His development has been aided by successful loan spells away from the North Londoners too, impressing on loan in League Two with Crewe Alexandra whilst also excelling further afield with SK Sturm Graz out in Austria.
He would keep a combined 13 clean sheets with both the Railwaymen and the Austrian Bundesliga side, returning back to Arsenal with men’s football experience.
Wrexham could be his toughest loan assignment to date however, fans at the Racehorse Ground hoping for another positive season directly after their title-winning exploits in the National League.
Okonkwo will hope he can contribute when asked upon, competition for places in goal at Wrexham heating up.
Competition For Places At Wrexham
After the shock news of Ben Foster’s retirement, the Red Dragons scrambled about to see who would pick up the number one goalkeeper jersey from Foster.
Mark Howard stepped up in a recent League Two encounter in-between the sticks, the 36-year-old keeping a clean sheet as Phil Parkinson’s men picked up a 1-0 victory away to nearby Tranmere Rovers.
Other goalkeeping options include Rob Lainton, Luke McNicholas and Liam Hall – the first option is however currently out of action with an injury.
Therefore, Okonkwo will be kept on his toes during this loan spell and will hope he can become the preferred goalkeeper option under Phil Parkinson despite all the competition.
What’s Been Said?
The Arsenal loanee will be in contention for more starts in his new surroundings after a debut clean sheet, but for the young keeper himself, he believes he can improve after what he described as a ‘rusty’ debut performance.
Speaking to the Leader, he said: “I wasn’t at my best.I want to get used to the team and get used to playing again, and help the team as much as I can.
I was very rusty, I haven’t played for a few months. Obviously that is part of football but it was really important that I played against Newcastle to get used to the team and how they play as well.
I am happy with a clean sheet but I wasn’t happy with my performance.”
Okonkwo further opened up about the prospect of competing for the main goalkeeper spot, a challenge he’s relishing.
He said: “There is a lot of competition, it is just about me focussing on myself and trying my best to get in the team, and do my best for the team. And when I get my opportunity, try to perform.
I just want to be involved and help the team as much as I can. If I play or I don’t play, as long as I help the team do well that is my main priority.”
Wrexham will be delighted with the fact they’ve managed to sign Okonkwo on a loan deal, the young Arsenal goalkeeper is highly rated at the Emirates.
It further bolsters the goalkeepers at their disposal, Ben Foster’s retirement now firmly a thing of the past.
Whether it’s Mark Howard, Arthur Okonwko or whoever else is called upon to feature in goal, Wrexham fans will hope that clean sheets become standard on the way to victories in League Two.