Ainsley Maitland-Niles has again reiterated his desire to play in midfield, and says that while he’s trying his best at right back, he doesn’t have years of experience in that position – an issue which can see him exposed from time to time.
The 22 year old has been filling in for Hector Bellerin since the Spaniard picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury in January, and his performances have fluctuated in a team which is far from defensively solid anyway.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he urged fans to understand that he’s been asked to do an unfamiliar job.
“I’m not a defender so I do get a lot of stick about my defending being poor, but it’s something I’m learning and have been learning for a couple of years now,” he said.
“It’s not going to come overnight. If I was a defender as a kid, and my defending was poor, I would understand where the criticism is coming from, but I’m trying my best for the team and for the manager.
“It’s not where I would choose to put myself in the team, as I’m an attacking player by trade. That’s all I can try to bring to the team.
“I’m still learning the defensive side, so when players are running at me, and they’re throwing skills at me, I’m still learning how to deal with that.”
As for what happens when Hector returns to the side, he insisted he’ll fight for a place and try to nail down a slot in his more natural position.
“”I’m a midfielder by trade, either central or on the wing,” he said.
“It’s always nice to have one main position where you play, and everyone else gets to play in their main position, so hopefully it’s just a matter of time before I can do that too.”
It’s not the first time he’s spoken about his desire to play in midfield. Last season made it clear he wants to play further forward.
“I’d like to be a winger,” he said.
“I like to think of myself as a winger at 25 years old, starting every week for Arsenal, scoring and assisting goals.
“I don’t feel like I’m there. I’m still young and I have a lot of learning to do.”