Arsenal

Arsenal: Defender is several weeks of first team training away from being included in Emery’s squad

Arsenal: Defender is several weeks of first team training away from being included in Emery’s squad

Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin is several weeks of first-team training away from being included in Unai Emery’s squad this season, according to football.london’s James Benge.

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The Spaniard has been sidelined since suffering a serious knee ligament injury in January against London rivals Chelsea.

With Bellerin out for so long, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been filling in at right-back. And his performances this season have shown there is little to worry about if Bellerin is indeed several weeks away from the first-team squad.

Maitland-Niles has been doing a more than admirable job. And while he may not be a natural right-back, he has been more than effective for Emery’s side.

The Hale End academy prospect has made the most tackles, the second-most interceptions and the joint-fourth most clearances out of the Arsenal squad this season (via WhoScored). His performances in defence have been quite admirable for someone whose natural game, as shown on Transfermarkt, is further forward.

He also carries an attacking threat going forward and has played 1.2 key passes per game in the English top-flight this season, the fourth-most in the Arsenal squad.

His hard work down the right flank won Arsenal their opening Premier League game of the season against Newcastle United. After snatching the ball off Jetro Willems, he crossed for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the winning goal.

The performance won him the man of the match award, as per BBC Sport, showing his high level of performance at right-back.

With Bellerin out for several weeks, there remains no worry in terms of quality in his replacement at right-back. However, outside of Maitland-Niles, there are no viable replacements, and one injury to the 22-year-old could cause the world of problems for Emery.

Arsenal fans, how impressed have you been with Maitland-Niles? Let us know in the comment section below!

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