BBC pundit Danny Murphy has praised Arsenal wingback Ainsley Maitland-Niles for his performances in recent months.
The 23-year-old has been called up by Gareth Southgate for England in his past two squads and Murphy says he would not have any qualms about the Gunners star going to Euro 2021, considering his excellent recent record in big games:
“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.”
As Murphy mentions, Maitland-Niles has certainly shown that he can provide a viable alternative on the left flank. Of course, Southgate does have a few options to choose from in that area of the pitch.
Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell is still seen as the number one choice, and Maitland-Niles’ teammate Bukayo Saka could also be in with a shout of being included in the squad for next summer’s tournament.
Much may depend on how much game time Maitland-Niles gets. The fullback was only a substitute against Sheffield United in Arsenal’s last league game but he has started four of the Gunners’ seven matches so far this campaign.