Danny Murphy has named Arsenal’s Ainsley Maitland-Niles as a ‘player for the big occasion’, and tipped him to bring that level of performance to the England side.
The Arsenal youngster played a key role in helping our side to win the FA Cup last season, with big performances against both Manchester City and Chelsea, and is looking likely to retain a first-team role for the rest of this term.
AMN was previously believed to be a central midfielder, but has been fielded as a full-back and wing-back in recent years, and is most recently impressing as an inverted full-back in Mikel Arteta’s side.
Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney are his rivals for that left wing-back role at present, with the latter filling in behind him as a third centre-back at present, and an extended run in the team is expected following his performances.
Former England international Murphy is tipping him to fulfil the same role for his country in the upcoming European Championships, with an onus on our left side at present.
He told his column at the DailyMail: “If you told me Ainsley Maitland-Niles would have to play left-back or wing-back in the Euro 2020 final, it wouldn’t worry me because I saw his performances at the end of last season.
“He kept Mo Salah quiet and helped Arsenal beat Manchester City and then Chelsea to win the FA Cup at Wembley.
“He’s a player for the big occasion: cool on the ball and doesn’t mind using his left foot higher up the pitch. He defends better one-on-one than people give him credit for. So England’s left-sided problem is not as serious as we once thought.”
If AMN can continue his fine form for Arsenal, I don’t see why he wouldn’t get the chance to nail down a role for England, especially given their recent formation change to include wing-backs.
Is Ben Chilwell favourite for the role in a back four, with AMN or Saka the most likely for the LWB role?