Mikel Arteta admits Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ ‘concern’ over Arsenal role

Maitland-Niles has struggled for playing time this season
Maitland-Niles has struggled for playing time this season (Picture: Getty Images)

Mikel Arteta says Ainsley Maitland-Niles is concerned over his limited role at Arsenal and wants more playing time to increase his chances of making England’s Euro 2020 squad this summer.

The 23-year-old has struggled to nail down a starting berth for the Gunners this season, despite being capable of operating in multiple positions, including left-back, right-back and in midfield.

When afforded the opportunity to cover for the injured Kieran Tierney at left-back in the 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace earlier this month, Maitland-Niles couldn’t keep up with the pace of the game and was hooked after 65 minutes.

Southampton v Arsenal: The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round
Arteta has opted for options other than Maitland-Niles (Picture: Getty Images)

He was then taken out of the matchday squad for Arsenal’s following Premier League win over Newcastle, with Arteta explaining after that game that he needs to get his head down and work hard to get back in the side.

Maitland-Niles became a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England squad last year, earning his first five caps for his country.

Reports on Thursday have claimed the Three Lions international is looking at heading out on loan before the transfer window closes on Monday to secure more regular playing time.

And when asked if the versatile defender is concerned that he needs more minutes to keep his place in the England squad, Arteta replied: ‘Yes, it is a concern when there is international football involved as well and the chance to reach that opportunity.

‘I understand that Ainsley wants more minutes and what he needs to do is fight, train and challenge his teammates and show us that he can be one of our starters.’

Reiss Nelson is another Arsenal academy graduate that has played a limited role this season and been linked with a loan move away from the Emirates.

When quizzed on the 21-year-old’s future, Arteta said: ‘That’s a conversation that we are having with the players that are not having a lot of time.

‘Obviously we want to keep their development going and we will make decision in the next three days with some of them on what the best thing is to do.

‘We try to be clear and transparent with what the plans are and their roles in the team and after that, we decide on the best thing for the players and the club.’

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