Ainsley Maitland-Niles says he’s proud of his performances at right-back having been asked by Unai Emery to cover the position in the absence of Hector Bellerin.
The England under-21 international looked a little shaky when he was asked to take on the role earlier in the season, but in recent weeks – including last night’s 2-0 win over Newcastle – he’s started to look more comfortable, both defensively and offensively.
“I’m trying,” was Ainsley’s assessment of his efforts when quizzed last night.
“I’m just trying to be consistent with my performances.
“I speak with the manager quite often and he tells me what he wants me to do, what I do well and what I can improve.
“It’s going well at the moment so I’m proud.”
Considering the boss has two bona fide right-backs to choose from, it’s a testament to Maitland-Niles’ willing and quality that he’s still being favoured while Hector recovers from his ruptured ACL.
As a regular in the team, Maitland-Niles knows all too well how much the first team are desperate to end their Champions League exile.
Up to third in the Premier League table with seven games remaining, it’s all about focus.
“It’s every team’s dream to play Champions League football. It’s the best European competition in the world.
“To play against all the big teams would be fantastic and you get to test yourself fully.
“That’s all we wanted to do, to go out there and win today’s game today. We’ve made one step closer to succeeding.”