International call up for Maitland-Niles might be a blessing in disguise!
For a player that cannot cement down a place in the Arsenal first team, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, regardless of how much game time he gets for the three Lions, is managing to catch the eye of Gareth Southgate as he continuously opts to pick him.
Ainsley alongside Bukayo Saka has yet again been called up to the senior first team of the England men’s squad for the upcoming friendly against Ireland and the Nations League qualifiers against Belgium and Iceland.
It is nice to see that although a player is not consistently playing in his clubs’ team, that he will still be called up for the national side. I have at times been critical of Ainsley, but his inconsistent performances could also come down to the fact that he is not getting that consistent game time for Arsenal. Something which I am sure is frustrating the player as much as anything or anyone else.
Ainsley is still only 23 years old and can at times be versatile in his style of play. Arteta normally deploys him in defence but Ainsley can also be played in midfield. And as we have been lacking on the creative front maybe Mikel should deploy him in midfield to see just what he can produce if anything.
All in all, despite not getting the consistent game time he actually deserves at times, I am happy that Southgate has opted to pick him for the upcoming games. Whether he will play him for all three games for the whole 90 minutes remains to be seen though, and although I myself hate internationals as I get worried that players will pick up injuries and be out for the long term, it must be a confidence booster for Ainsley to know even with a lack of game time at Arsenal that he is still in the mind of the England manager.