Having been one of the bright spots during what was a difficult campaign last year, Ainsley Maitland-Niles might well have expected to play a big part this season too.
However, a serious injury on the opening day has hampered his progress, and thus far he has made just four appearances.
He also has to win over a new manager who isn’t afraid to give young players their chance, but so far his playing time under Unai Emery has been limited.
The 21 year old revealed he’s had a conversation with the Spaniard about his situation and says it’s down to him to prove to the boss that he’s got what it takes.
” I still feel like I am improving and getting back to my best,” he said ahead of the Europa League clash with Qarabag on Thursday night.
“Me and the manager have had a conversation and he’s told me things that he wants me to improve on, so all I can do is go away every day and wake up and think how can I get better at this?
“By a certain amount of time the manager should be able to see it in me.”
Pressed on what those areas of improvement were, he replied, “It’s more of a personal thing between Unai and me honestly, but I think as long as I know it and he knows it and we both agree it, that’s all that matters.”
The versatile academy graduate is expected to start tomorrow night, and it’s chance for him to impress on the pitch as well as off it.
His comments about Raheem Sterling and the racism he suffered himself are well worth reading, and with a good head on his shoulders he’ll have a good chance of forcing his way into Emery’s thinking.