Ainsley Maitland-Niles played 67 minutes for the Arsenal u23s on Friday, as he continues his recovery from a fracture he suffered in August.
Maitland-Niles was forced off with the injury just 35 minutes into the season, against Manchester City. It came at a terrible time for the 21-year-old, as the regular absences of Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac could’ve given him a chance to play some first team minutes, albeit at left-back.
Now, the youngster is back and returning to full match fitness. He started for the academy against Swansea City on Friday and made it to midway through the second half, before coming off for Bukayo Saka.
Ben Sheaf, another injured youngster, also made his return in the same match, coming off the bench for Daniel Ballard in the second half. Arsenal were 1-0 down at the time, but they managed to score an equaliser with 12 minutes to go.
Hopefully, Maitland-Niles will now be able to work his way back into the first-team squad. He makes a useful option in midfield and at left-back, and could provide a different type of option in the middle in the Europa League/League Cup matches.
Guendouzi and Elneny have been playing together so far, but arguably that pairing doesn’t give the team enough going forward and building attacks. We’ll see if Maitland-Niles is ready for next week against Blackpool.