By Declan Taylor

Kieran Gibbs’ days as a midfielder look numbered as Arsène Wenger lines him up as Gael Clichy’s left-back understudy.

The youngster made his first Arsenal start against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane last October and he could make his second against the same opponents on Wednesday night.

The 18-year-old was a member of the Wimbledon academy which was disbanded when the club relocated to Milton Keynes four years ago. Gibbs joined Arsenal in 2006 predominantly as a left-winger but has featured in defence since he returned from last season’s loan spell at Norwich. Now, with doubts over the fitness of Clichy (shin) and Mikael Silvestre (muscular problem), Gibbs could be in contention for a place in Arsenal’s back four against Hull on Saturday.

“I play him now at left back because I feel he can be very good there,” said Wenger. “He has a tremendous engine, good technique and he’s a very reliable boy.

“Yes [he is back up for Clichy] although it is a new position for him so we need to give him some experience. At the moment we have Silvestre in there until he is ready.

“I am convinced that with the way we play football he can be a great left back.”

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23 Sep 2008