Freddie Ljungberg admits Ainsley Maitland-Niles is a little rusty at the moment, after a couple of months out, but thinks the academy graduate did well enough in his first game back.

Maitland-Niles made his return to the pitch on Friday against Swansea City for the Arsenal u23s. He played until midway through the second half, when he came off for Bukayo Saka. Presumably, Arsenal don’t want to push him too hard straight away.

U23 coach Ljungberg spoke to Arsenal Media about Maitland-Niles’ performance after the game.

“He’s been training for 10 days or two weeks or so now and we were asked by the first team to play him for a few minutes and get him ready,” Ljungberg explained. “He did well and of course he was a little rusty because he hasn’t played football for a long time.

“But that’s why he was in the game today, so he could get ready, feel it and keep up with the tempo in the game. So it was nice to have him here.”

With Sead Kolasinac and Nacho Monreal’s continued absences, it would be great it Maitland-Niles could return to full match fitness as soon as possible. The other makeshift left-backs, like Stephan Lichtsteiner and Granit Xhaka, haven’t made as positive an impact as Ainsley did last year.

That’s mostly due to the duo’s limited offensive capabilities in the position. Lichtsteiner is much better suited to the right, where he can whip crosses in using his favoured foot. Xhaka is left-footed, but he’s hardly the player to push it past a full-back and run onto it.

Arsenal rely on full-backs as a key part of their overall offensive set up, so it’s a bit limiting not to have one right now. Hopefully, Monreal, Kolasinac or Maitland-Niles will be available by the time the Gunners face Liverpool next weekend.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.