By Richard Clarke
Justin Hoyte has a huge fan in Arsène Wenger.
The Arsenal manager will not be letting the full back leave Emirates Stadium this season - on loan or otherwise - and the 22-year-old will play a pivotal role this evening in the Carling Cup Semi-Final second leg at White Hart Lane.
You could have been forgiven for thinking Hoyte's days were numbered when Bacary Sagna arrived in the summer. Emmanuel Eboue had shared right back duties with the Englishman last term but suddenly the position was overcrowded.
The Ivorian's move to midfield has created some space but Sagna's form has restricted Hoyte to one Premier League appearance. However that is not a reflection of his value to his manager.
"I have big respect for Justin because he is a player who does not talk too much but every time I play him he is quality," said Wenger.
"He has improved tremendously. Technically he is very good but as well he is very versatile and quick on the turn which is a great quality for a centre back. He is good in the air even if he is small and I refuse categorically to give him out [on loan].
"He can play in the centre and when I did that against Tottenham in the first leg he did very, very well."
Such praise does raise the question of why he needed to sign Sagna.
"I felt that we needed physical power, aggression and experience at the back," the manager replied. "I felt that Sagna, who can play across the back, had that.
"Because I wanted to move Eboue to the middle of the park I needed to buy another full back. I could not start with just two experienced full backs and Sagna has come in and played well.
"But anyway, for me, Hoyte plays in the first team. He plays a high number of games and every time I wanted to play a right back I played Justin in front of Eboue. Part of being at a big club is you accept that other players might come in and do extremely well. He has to be patient."Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 22 Jan 2008