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Ireland U19 international scores as Arsenal finalise preparations for Wembley clash with Liverpool

Mark McGuinness helped the Gunners to overcome MK Dons.

mikel-arteta-file-photo Mikel Arteta called upon Mark McGuinness during Arsenal's game against MK Dons last night. Source: Richard Heathcote/NMC Pool

IT MAY ONLY have been a pre-season friendly, but Arsenal’s game against MK Dons last night is likely to live long in the memory of 19-year-old centre-back Mark McGuinness.

The Republic of Ireland U19 international came off the bench to score the Gunners’ third goal in a 4-1 victory with a powerful header from a Reiss Nelson corner.

The game marked the FA Cup holders’ final outing before they go to Wembley on Saturday to contest the Community Shield against Premier League champions Liverpool. 

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Arsenal started with six players who featured in their FA Cup final win over Chelsea earlier this month, including Kieran Tierney, Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Early goals from Mohamed Elneny and Eddie Nketiah had Mikel Arteta’s side in front, but MK Dons – who handed a first appearance to 21-year-old Irish defender Warren O’Hora following his recent loan move from Brighton & Hove Albion – reduced the deficit just after the half-hour mark through a Rob Holding own goal.

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McGuinness made it 3-1 by scoring on 76 minutes, before the visitors capped the win over the League One side with a late penalty scored by Reiss Nelson.

Screen Shot 2020-08-26 at 10.56.42 Source: Twitter

Born in London, McGuinness – whose father is from Derry – has been on Arsenal’s books since the age of 10. The towering defender, standing at 6’4″, broke into the club’s U23 side last season.

Along with Newcastle United’s Oisin McEntee, he formed a formidable central defensive partnership as the Ireland U19s reached the semi-finals of the 2019 European Championships.

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Paul Dollery

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